Defending Roe

Women implore people to fight by every means necessary to defend women’s reproductive health care rights and defend easy, safe access to abortions during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

The Struggle to Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights 48 Years After Roe

It’s been 48 years since Roe V. Wade became the law of the land in America, and yet here we are, women are still fighting to preserve this most basic of human rights and dignities, the right to decide what happens to their bodies. For much of that time, women have been able to maintain this right, but over the last ten years, the strength of that law has been tested, and the courts have slowly whittled it down to the point that two states are seriously threatening it. In one of those states, a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion is currently effectively banned, and if we lose these battles in the court, women’s right to bodily autonomy will be threatened here.

In celebration of that struggle and in the hopes of inspiring others, I have curated my 48 top photos from the rally and march on October 2, 2021, for women’s reproductive rights in Philadelphia.

48: Thousands of protesters rally in front of City Hall to defend their right to have safe, legal abortions, and they will not go quietly back to the 1950s, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021.  (Photo by: Cory Clark)

47: Council Person At Large Kendra Brooks calls on Philadelphians to continue to fight for women’s rights and progressive values both in the street and at the ballot box during a rally to protect women’s reproductive rights after Texas effectively bans abortions in the state, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

46: A group of young women points out the hypocrisy of a bunch of white men demanding control over women’s reproductive rights, pointing out that if the shoe were on the other foot, this dynamic would not fly during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

45: A young woman points out the logical fallacy of GOP, Ideological positions on fighting COVID and women’s reproductive rights at a rally for women’s reproductive rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

44: She said it, Even cowgirls get to choose during a rally in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum in Philadelphia, Pa, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

43: Sometimes, you have to show up and slap on a bumper sticker to get your point across, during a rally over abortion rights in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

42: Two High Schoolers who helped organize the march and rally for women’s reproductive rights call the crowd in front of the entrance to City Hall as the City Hall portion of the rally begins, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021.  (Photo by: Cory Clark)For nearly a century, women have been fighting for the right to control what happens to their bodies. Forty-eight years ago, that right was recognized by the courts, but here we are. Generations who have fought most of their lives for this right are joined by those just beginning their fight.  Some are too young even to think about such things, but who are put in this position by religious extremists seeking to impose their religious views on all women.

41: A woman who fought to get the right to have a safe, legal abortion carries a sign pointing out the fact that she still has to fight for this right, long after the request had been recognized by the supreme court, during a rally to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

40: An elderly woman stands with thousands outside of City Hall to call out the religious right for imposing their religious ideologies on the bodies of women, pointing out the hypocrisy of the religious rights supposed fear of “Sharia Law” while setting their own extremists’ views on women themselves, during a rally in support of abortion rights in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

39: Women are sick of having to fight for their right to an abortion decades after having that right recognized by the Supreme Court because religious extremists continue to push for control over women’s bodies. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

38: Mother and Daughter stand together fighting for both of their right to choose what happens to their bodies, 48 years after their right to bodily autonomy had been recognized by the courts and became the law of the land during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

37: A little girl barely in elementary school felt so strongly that her future was threatened that she had her dad bring her to a rally to defend her right to choose what to do with her own body. She and her father marched from the Philadelphia Art Museum to City Hall with her dad to defend their reproductive rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

One of the main tools women have used through the generations in the fight to maintain abortion rights is to point out the hypocrisy of the arguments and the notion that men wouldn’t have abortions on demand if they were the ones who had to carry a pregnancy. The sarcasm and mockery employed are devastatingly hilarious and on point.

36: A protester points out the irony of having a credibly accused rapist deciding the fate of women’s reproductive rights, during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

34: Women point out that imposing religious edicts from the religious right infringes not only on women’s reproductive rights, the right to make choices about their own bodies, but also deeply held religious beliefs of other groups, during a rally at the Philadelphia Art Museum, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

33: Young women point out the hypocrisy of the GOP forcing the government into the decisions between women and their doctors and point out that if the situations were reversed the very people driving the attacks on women’s rights would be demanding abortions be made as easy as humanly possible, during a rally at the Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

Women intermix support for planned parenthood and women’s rigt to safe accesses to safe reproductive health care and black Trans rights, during a rally in front of City Hall in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

32: A group of women sit at the foot of the Philadelphia Art Museum holding signs that both call attention to their humanity, their right to bodily autonomy and the hypocrisy of the Pro-Life movement, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

31: A young woman points out the fact that the GOP cares more about preventing women from accessing reproductive health care, than they do about preventing the spread of a deadly pandemic, at a rally in front of City Hall to defend a woman’s right to an abortion, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)People regularly pointed out that in order to truly be pro-family, pro-woman, you have to be for a woman’s right to have safe access to all reproductive health care as a human right, especially the right to safe abortions.

30: A protester marches with thousands of women to fight for women’s healthcare during a march to City Hall to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

29: Thousands of protesters march from the Philadelphia Art Museum to City Hall for a rally to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

28: Women intermix support, for planned parenthood, women’s right to safe access to safe reproductive health care, and black Trans rights, during a rally in front of City Hall in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

27: A mother by choice, A mother for choice. Exactly as it should be and would be if religious extremists weren’t trying to impose their beliefs on women, in front of the entrance to City Hall as the City Hall portion of the rally begins, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. . (Photo by: Cory Clark)

26: In a sea of thousands determined to defend a woman’s right to choose, women show us what it means to be pro-family and pro-children, during a rally to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

25: The Pro-choice position is the pro-health, pro-family, pro-life position, during a rally to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)

24: A woman comes out as having had an abortion and her spouse supported her in her decision as any good partner should, at a rally for women’s reproductive rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

23: A young woman points out the logical fallacy of GOP, Ideological positions on fighting COVID and women’s reproductive rights at a rally for women’s reproductive rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by: Cory Clark)Roe V. Wade and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the heart and soul of the march and rallies, the fight for Roe and its decades of defenders was an inspiration to everyone in attendance.

22: The coat hanger has long been a symbol of the unsafe nature of abortions pre-Roe V. Wade and to point to the fact that overturning Roe would eliminate abortion, but would make it unsafe or limit its access only to the rich who could afford to travel, during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

21: Thousands of women gathered in front of City Hall to echo the words of all the women who came before them to fight for one of the most fundamental rights a woman has, the right to her own body, which has always been under attack by men often under the guise of religious doctrine, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

20: Every person present during the march from the Philadelphia Art Museum to City Hall carried with them the strength of all those who came before them and the hopes and prayers of all those present and future, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

19: Women consistently make up more than half of all voters who turn out in elections and their numbers are only growing particularly those of women of color, more than 70 percent of them support Roe V Wade, during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

18: Women make it clear that they will never stop fighting for the right to their own body and that to oppose them on this is political suicide, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)17

17: Democratic women will hold their elected officials to account if they don’t defend women’s right to easy, safe access to abortions during a march to City Hall in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

16: Women implore people to fight by every means necessary to defend women’s reproductive health care rights and defend easy, safe access to abortions during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

15: Women have the power to protect their right to easy, safe access to abortions and they have shown the world that they will fight to defend that right for nearly fifty years, everyone that I spoke to said they will defend that right for another fifty years if that’s what it takes, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

14: Thousands march to defend abortion rights from Taliban style religious extremism behind them is forty-eight years of Roe V. Wade and the understanding that to lose this right is to find themselves in reproductive subjugation to men, something they cannot abide, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

13: Women are speaking out, “we worked too hard to get these rights recognized and we refuse to turn back the hands of time to a period where women’s reproductive rights kept them tired to the home and under the subjugation of men,” during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

12: Thousands of women are laying down the gauntlet, determined not to have their bodies controlled by right-wing religious zealots, during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)But women aren’t in this fight alone, a majority of men support women’s right to have an abortion and if you asked the women at the center of the fight for their control over their bodies, 100 percent of real men support their right to choose, these real men stood arm in arm with women to defend Roe V. Wade.

11: “Every man has a mother, sister, wife, an important woman in their life and if we’re looking to keep them safe, we should all be supporting their reproductive health and their right to make their own decisions about it,” said Ken Johnson, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

10: “Why are old white men so concerned about what I do with my body, we’re talking about my womb, my ability to make reproductive choices for myself, it has nothing to do with them, yet here we are 48 years later still fighting for this shit, even though me my age support my right to an abortion,” Jen Carol, during a rally in front of City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)At the end of the day, it’s about solidarity, love, and the right to self-determination and the folks at these marches and allies embody that.

9: A young woman makes the heart symbol to another young woman who she marched with from the Philadelphia Art Museum to City Hall to defend their reproductive rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021.

8: “Women will get abortions when they need them, that isn’t up for question, the question is will they be safe abortions,” an older woman told me, “we were getting them before Roe, if they take that from us we’ll still get them,” during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

7: Let’s not forget who the minority of people who are pushing these laws on women’s bodies are, they’re far-right Republican religious extremists who are no better than the Taliban, and for all their fake outrage over Sharia Law, they are pushing their own religious laws on women, protesters fight back against these extremists, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

6: Women use humor to call out the hypocrisy of the Texas Abortion law, during a march to defend abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

5: A young woman sits on the steps in front of City Hall to listen to speakers at a rally for women’s reproductive rights while holding a sign pointing to the inherent injustice of men making laws to regulate women’s bodies, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021.Even in the direst of fights, we must remember to make our struggle fun as a form of self-care, which is also a big part of whatever struggle we are engaged in and helps us to keep going for the long haul. A friend of mine told me once that every struggle for justice is a marathon and must be viewed as such.

4: One of the things I’ve seen over the years and been the most impressed by is the ability of those fighting for human rights, often their own to use humor effectively as a tool to call attention to the absurdities of the injustice being perpetrated, this young woman adds onto a line from a song in the 1980s to demand fundamental reproductive rights, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

3: Reggae Percussion group Batala Philadelphia pumps up the crowd in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum before marching to City Hall for a rally in defense of abortion rights, in Philadelphia, PA, on October 2, 2021.

2: A woman calls out the hypocrisy of the GOP’s position on masks compared to their position on a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health, by writing “My Body, My Choice,” a long-used phrase used by activists in the Pro-Choice movement that has been hijacked by Anti Maskers and COVID deniers, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

1: A young woman holds a sign calling out the fact that reproductive rights are in fact human rights, and no law imposed on women by Christian extremists will ever change that fact, during a march to City Hall, in Philadelphia, PA on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Cory Clark)

This fight is far from over, today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Texas Abortion Ban, tomorrow is election day, we can and should celebrate our struggle but when we’re done we must remember to get back in the fight, our wives, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters are depending on us.

About Cory Clark 15 Articles
Cory Clark is a Photojournalist and writer focused on Human Rights and other social issues. His work can be found in hundreds of media outlets from Philly Magazine to Fortune. He has been a long time freelancer for Getty Images, The Associated Press, and Association French Presse. Cory, his wife, and son are residents of East Germantown.

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