Abortions rights supporters jammed a street next to the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, one of hundreds of "Bans Off Our Bodies" protests nationwide on Saturday in response to a leaked draft opinion showing that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Hundreds of protesters filled a 150-yard length of Charles Avenue from curb to curb, holding up signs saying "Abort the Court" and "Against abortion? Get a vasectomy," and chanting "Keep your rosaries off our ovaries." They listened to speakers that included both of Minnesota's U.S. senators.
"The most American of values is the value of freedom and autonomy over our own bodies," said Sen. Tina Smith. "We won't let these radical Republicans tell us what to do with our bodies."
"Get mad and vote," Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged the crowd.
Protesters Melissa Jones and Brittany Frickstad, both of Bloomington, brought signs featuring a clothes hanger and the words "We won't go back" and "Never again."
The two said that making abortions illegal won't stop abortions, it will only stop safe abortions.
Mayo Clinic medical school students Giovanna Grigsby-Rocca and Jordan Richardson carried signs saying "Med students for choice," and "Future pediatrician for choice."
"I believe abortion is health care," said Grigsby-Rocca.
"There's really nothing more important than bodily autonomy," Richardson said.
Gail Loverud, a 76-year-old Ham Lake resident, came with a sign saying, "My body, my decision." Loverud said she was protesting on behalf of her 13-year-old granddaughter.
"I guess I'm here for all of the young women," she said. "It is their right to control their bodies."
The protesters later spilled out on sidewalks over several blocks of University Avenue, waving signs to honking motorists. A handful of anti-abortion protesters were also at the event.
In addition to the event at St. Paul, Bans Off Our Bodies rallies were also planned Saturday in Duluth, St. Cloud, Brainerd and Grand Rapids, Minn., according to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund website.