As the U.S. Supreme Court listening to arguments on Wednesday over the postponement of the 50th anniversary of abortion rights, a young woman wearing a “Bans off my body” T-shirt climbed on a white poster at a football stadium in downtown Jackson.
Several members and supporters of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition had written messages in a series of sticky pink, blue and orange notes - which they would have wanted to say to the judges.
“I remember going to Cuba or Sweden to have an abortion. Not again."
“Protect Black Women.”
You have added the latest in pink ink to the neon green note:
"Understand the power you have and the real lives that contribute to this."
The racially divided group gathered at a table covered in linen in Westin just a few miles from the state-run abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, whose representatives were in court in Washington on Wednesday morning. It became clear to many in the ballroom that the ability of Mississippi patients to have abortions - and, indeed, the end of abortion rights across the country - depends on a pending decision.
Members of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition had no hope that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor next year - instead, they were committed to setting additional limits in a situation where abortion was already difficult.
"We will not go underground," said Valencia Robinson, executive director of Mississippi in Action, who represents people living with HIV and provides sexual health education. She and others say they are already working to mobilize fans who can help with transportation to the Jackson clinic and help with financial constraints that often prevent abortions.
Abortion rights lawyer Valencia Robinson cheered at a rally in Jackson, Miss., On Dec. 1, 2021.
Abortion rights lawyer Valencia Robinson cheers at a rally in Jackson. Rory Doyle of NBC news
The Mississippi Act 2018 which specifically prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy has set the stage for this period. The restrictions, which were overturned by lower courts and were not enforced, contradict the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which emphasized abortion rights before the baby is alive, or the stage at which an embryo can live outside the womb. Medical experts say the benchmark is between 23 and 24 weeks, after the point Mississippi wants to reduce access. In defiance of the law, Mississippi asks the Supreme Court to dismiss Roe v. Wade.
Neighboring Louisiana is one of the few provinces that has a number of trapping laws that could make abortion more illegal if the landmark 1973 decision falls. Lakeesha Harris, a Louisiana activist who went to Jackson to speak at an abortion rights conference on Wednesday, reminded the crowd that the effects of what began as a state ban in Mississippi were not in the cell.
"It affects Louisiana," he said. “It affects Texas. Oppression does not know the limits of state lines. ”
Wednesday's oral arguments made it clear that set-aside barriers - both legal and cultural - that left Mississippi as the only province in the Deep South with an abortion clinic were not within the country's borders.
"While the whole country is preparing to hear what it is like to be a Mississippi ... we are still facing the post-Roe climate," said Michelle Colon, a member of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition who founded the SHERo Mississippi, a reproductive justice group led by black women. "If you only have one clinic, that's a big obstacle to access."
The night before members of the Mississippi Abortion Access Coalition gathered to hear High Court arguments that could disband Roe v. Wade, opponents of abortion rights stood before the Jackson Women's Health Organization to pray for the result.
"This case tomorrow could make Mississippi the first base to collapse," said Steve Karlen, director of the 40 Days for Life campaign, a non-profit organization that leads the annual anti-abortion campaign.
The speaker shared his dream of "Pink House," as the center is known for its pastel color, will be a church.
An abortion rights lawyer held a sign in front of an anti-abortion protest at a rally in Jackson, Miss., On December 1, 2021.
An abortion rights lawyer is carrying a sign in front of a protest against abortion at a rally on Wednesday in Jackson. Rory Doyle of NBC news
Not to mention the challenges that often shape decisions to end unwanted pregnancies in a province that has long had a high level of poverty in the country.
Laura Knight, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, said she did not expect the state to tighten public safety on the remaining women and limited means if Roe v. Wade was demolished.
His office has a dormitory for those who need help. She sees support for women who continue their pregnancy as a responsibility of religious communities, rather than government. The Republican-led country has rejected a plan to increase Medicaid for people below the government's poverty line, and has the lowest insurance rate in the country.
"In post-Roe Mississippi, I see churches rising and becoming more visible," Knight said.
It is just a recent Mississippi attempt to limit abortion. For less than a decade, Jackson's clinic fought against the 2012 law, which would lead to its closure. And the introduction of a new law to reduce access has not stopped.