OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Independence Day, instead of parades and barbecues, some Oklahomans celebrated their freedom with protests at the state’s Capitol.
Hundreds of pro-abortion rights advocates gathered on the Capitol stairs and marched to the Bricktown Ballpark with signs, megaphones, and passion to fight back for that constitutional protection for reproductive rights.
“It’s July 4th and we’re supposed to be celebrating freedom and rights,” said Rasheem Beavers, attending Monday’s rally with his wife and young child. “Why not be out here? That’s exactly what today is for.”
Abortion was banned automatically across the state following the dismantling of Roe v. Wade in June, due to trigger laws banning the elective procedure that went into effect if Roe’s precedent was overturned; Abortion providers in Oklahoma filed a lawsuit on July 1st, challenging the state’s abortion bans.
As the crowd marched, many wondered how the state can celebrate freedom for all if certain rights for some are limited.
“It’s a woman’s right to do what she believes is best for her,” added Emily Beavers. “It’s not up for anyone else to decide other than the person and her doctor. It’s healthcare.”
An earlier protest at the Capitol also drew hundreds of people, who said they came together because they believed it was important to rally around important issues.
“There’re so many things that we’re about to lose because of what the Supreme Court just took away, and we want to be prepared for anything that comes,” said Aidan Lozano, one of the organizers for the Human Rights Rally at the Capitol.
“When those voices are heard and when those voices can shine, those voices will change the community,” added Jalen Dorsey, another organizer.
A mother-daughter duo helped to organize the event, saying July 4th was the best day to be heard.
“This isn’t a democratic issue, this isn’t a liberal issue, it’s a human rights issue,” said Amanda Rodriguez, who helped her daughter organize Monday’s event.
“People have to drive past us to go where they’re going… we’re forcing people to see us,” added her daughter Jacalyn Lane.
The 18-year-old told KFOR she hoped their efforts along with others would drive lasting change all the way to the polls in November.
“Unless we make those changes, we will not be heard,” she said.
Monday’s organizers told KFOR their focus in addition to making a statement was voter registration; they hoped to sign as many as 400 people up to vote in November’s midterm elections.