Pro-choice activists hold “Bigger Than Roe” rally at State Capitol

MADISON, Wis. – Hundreds rallied for abortion rights at the Wisconsin State Capitol on what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade Sunday.

Madison’s march was the marquee event in a series of dozens of marches across the nation in support of reproductive rights. Organizers said they chose Madison as the main event because of Wisconsin’s upcoming Supreme Court election on April 4th.

WATCH: Protestors march in Madison on 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

We want to be headed forward towards a feminist future, forward to taking our rights back and forward to taking back Wisconsin,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Executive Director of the Women’s March.

When Roe v. Wade, the 1973 US Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to abortion nationwide, was overturned last year, Wisconsin reverted to an 1849 law banning the procedure in almost all cases. Many Wisconsin women remember how they felt that day.

It was just like no other feeling,” said protester Michelle Loyo. “You just feel your rights taken away.” 

Your stomach just hits the floor and it’s just like, what’s next?” said Whitney Klein.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh there’s so many people that are going to suffer because of this,'” said Sheila McDonnell.

Now, activists in Wisconsin have set their sights on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, hoping that flipping it could mean the 1849 law is no longer enforced.

“These are the people that get to decide whether or not the 1849 abortion ban stands,” said Madison Abortion and Reproductive Rights Coalition for Health, or MAARCH, organizer Amadi Ozier. “There are two conservative extremist candidates on the ballot… Jennifer Dorow and Dan Kelly who have spoken about leaving the 1849 abortion ban alone.”

Right now, the Court has a 4-3 conservative majority. There are currently four candidates running for one seat – two conservatives, Jennifer Dorow and Dan Kelly; and two liberals Janet Protasiewicz and Everett Mitchell. They’ll face off in the primary on February 21st. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on April 4th. If a liberal candidate wins, it would be the first time since 2008 that the Court had a liberal majority.

For many protesters, the fight started even before the overturn of Roe.

The patriarchy is coming back and rearing its ugly head,” said McDonnell. She was at the Women’s March in 2017 and is glad to see the fight is still going strong. “It’s delightful to see the momentum is still there.”

It’s cold, but we’ll march on. We’ll keep marching,” said Klein.