(Updated at 2:25 p.m. on 5/12/2022) The high-stakes battle over abortion access reached a residential neighborhood in Fort Hunt last night (Monday) when protestors marched on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s house.
Drawing about 100 participants, the demonstration was organized by the grassroots protest group ShutDown DC in response to Alito’s draft opinion indicating that the court will overturn its pivotal 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Live video of the protest shows marchers convening at the Hollin Hall Shopping Center on Fort Hunt Road before working their way through neighborhood streets to Alito’s residence. There, they lit candles in the street and delivered speeches for about 15 minutes before returning to the shopping center.
“My body, my choice!” protestors chanted, among other slogans. At one point, they invited residents who came outside to film the passing march to join them, though the onlookers didn’t appear to take them up on the offer.
LIVE Protesters march to home of Justice Alito https://t.co/dJ551exz9U
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) May 9, 2022
About 100 people turned out! Not bad for a quiet neighborhood in suburban VA
— ShutDownDC (@ShutDown_DC) May 10, 2022
The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that its officers responded to the gathering but described the demonstrations as peaceful.
“Officers remained on scene to ensure the safety of the participants, our community members and the roadways until the crowd dispersed on their own,” the FCPD said. “No arrests were made.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said last night that his office coordinated with Fairfax County and Virginia State police, as well as federal authorities, to monitor the protest.
“Virginia State Police will assist federal and local law enforcement as needed to ensure the safety of our citizens, including Supreme Court Justices, who call Virginia home,” Youngkin said on Twitter.
We have been coordinating with @FairfaxCountyPD, @VSPPIO, and federal authorities to ensure that there isn’t violence. Virginia State Police were closely monitoring, fully coordinated with Fairfax County and near the protests. https://t.co/SZMhbuzKFN
— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) May 10, 2022
The protest at Alito’s house was one of several abortion-rights demonstrations that have popped up across the D.C. area since Politico published the leaked draft opinion on May 2. A ruling in the case, which involves a challenge to a ban on abortions after 15 weeks in Mississippi, is expected to be finalized this summer.
Students at 11 high schools in Fairfax County rallied yesterday to express their support for abortion as a right and urge state and federal legislators to protect access to the medical procedure.
Protestors have also shown up at the residences of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who both live in Montgomery County, as well as Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who lives in Pimmit Hills. The protests don’t appear to have reached Justice Clarence Thomas in Fairfax Station.
The protests led the Senate to pass legislation yesterday enhancing security at Supreme Court justices’ homes, though the bill still needs to be considered by the House.
The Virginia Republican Party condemned the protests as “an abhorrent and vile affront to the processes of the highest court.”
“Intimidation of the Justices and the threat of violence against them and their families has no place in our Commonwealth or our country,” Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson said in a statement. “Targeting the home of a Justice is wrong, and these protestors should be ashamed of their actions.”
The Democratic Party of Virginia expressed support for yesterday’s student protests but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Alito demonstration.
Today, students across Virginia are making a statement. We stand by them to ensure they will not be the post-Roe generation. https://t.co/roJlWi3hvY
— Virginia Democrats (@vademocrats) May 9, 2022
Students swarmed to the front of Herndon High School yesterday (Monday) to protest a pending Supreme Court decision that could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The group gathered for about a half hour after lunch, filling up a road, wearing the color green to show support and displaying signs that advocated for abortion rights. Slogans included “Keep your laws off my body,” which was coupled with a picture of a uterus, and “My body is not a political playground.”
Students chanted phrases such as “My body, my choice” and used a megaphone that the school provided. Herndon High School Principal Liz Noto gave permission for students to hold the rally, and school staff stood by in case they needed to intervene.
“I’m honestly really surprised,” co-organizer Grace Dowell said. “I didn’t think that this many people were going to come out here and support us today.”
Since Politico published a draft opinion by the Supreme Court on May 2, pro and anti-abortion advocates, elected officials, and the public have been grappling with the potential implications of an end to the court ruling that has upheld abortion access as a right for almost 50 years.
While recent polls suggest a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade, 23 states have laws restricting or banning abortion that are currently in effect or that would take effect if the leaked opinion is finalized.
The tension surrounding the issue played out at Herndon High School when a counter-protest emerged in the middle of the group. Students leading the rally urged those advocates to leave.
Dowell said she hopes legislators and the government in general will pay attention to young voices. She and co-organizer Alissa Huq, also a 10th grader, worked with the student-led organization Generation Ratify Virginia, which is seeking ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, to lead their first rally.
The organization said it helped coordinate demonstrations at 45 schools across the state to demand federal and state measures that will codify Roe v. Wade, including the certification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution.
“I have engaged in countless conversations with students locally and throughout our state, and they long to have their voices respected and acknowledged in the fight for reproductive rights,” Generation Ratify Virginia Policy Director Felix Hedberg said in a statement. “It’s time to listen to youth…Generation Z is ready to capitalize on that attention to ensure Youngkin and Virginia Republicans won’t succeed in rewriting Virginia as a commonwealth against abortion access.”
According to Generation Ratify Virginia, other Fairfax County high schools that planned demonstrations yesterday included Centreville, Chantilly, James Madison, John R. Lewis, Langley, Marshall, McLean, Oakton, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and W.T. Woodson.
Students at South Lakes High School in Reston were planning to participate as well, but their protest has been rescheduled for Thursday (May 12) “due to admin concerns,” Generation Ratify Virginia State Director Abby Garber told FFXnow.
Christa Anderson, a ninth grader at Herndon High, noted that corpses have rights and questioned how pregnant people’s liberties would compare if Roe v. Wade is rescinded. Her classmate Nora Blythe said the potential Supreme Court decision is upsetting but was glad to see the support of students there.
“It’s our future, and it’s going to affect us,” Dowell said. “I want to get that message out there.”
News that the Supreme Court plans to overturn its landmark 1973 abortion-rights Roe v. Wade decision prompted a rush of support to at least one Fairfax County area abortion clinic and expressions of concern from many legislators representing the area.
The Supreme Court confirmed that a leaked draft opinion published on Monday (May 2) by Politico is authentic, adding that the document does not represent the “final position on any member on issues in the case.”
While the decision isn’t final, it’s already drawing cheers from abortion opponents and horror from reproductive justice advocates, who say a Roe v. Wade reversal will be particularly harmful for low-income people, people of color and other marginalized groups.
“If true, this opinion would be an all-out assault on a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health,” U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) said on Facebook. “I’m doing everything in my power to fight for the right to have an abortion.”
The Falls Church Healthcare Center has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer, development director Mike Scheinberg said.
The private medical clinic provides abortions, gynecology and obstetrics services, counseling, and more. Less than 10% of the clinic’s patients come from out of state, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the health center likely would serve more such patients in the future, he said.
“Unfortunately and tragically, a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is going to adversely [impact] mostly individuals who are pregnant people of color and those…who are not in great financial state,” Scheinberg said. “It discriminates against the poor.”
He said the possibility of curtailing abortion rights comes as little surprise, as many states, including Virginia, have put obstacles in place to limit access. The Commonwealth started requiring ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods in 2012, but the General Assembly repealed those measures in 2020.
Still, he said advocates are monitoring recent bills in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly.
“It’s unknown what will happen considering that our governor is a staunch opponent of abortion access,” Scheinberg said. Read More