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On a cold, dreary Tuesday in early May, more than 100 people converged in front of Omaha City Hall to protest a leaked Supreme Court opinion indicating plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v Planned Parenthood. Both decisions have long cemented people’s right to an abortion and, if overturned, would put legislating that right squarely in states’ hands.

“As a woman, and [as] someone who loves many women who have gotten abortions, I found the court [decision] that was leaked to be an extreme step backwards,”  said Creigton freshman Callaghan Cavanaugh who attended the Tuesday rally at 19th and Farnam Streets. “It terrified me.”

This past April, the Nebraska Legislature narrowly blocked a “trigger” bill that would have banned all abortions provided Congress pass anti-abortion legislation or the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. On Tuesday Speaker Mike Hilgers said he planned to organize a special session of the Legislature to “protect the unborn” in light of the leaked Supreme Court documents. Currently Nebraska allows abortion up to the 22nd week of pregnancy.

Callaghan Cavanaugh, a freshman at Creighton University, stands at a protest outside Omaha City Hall on May 3, 2022. Photo by Isa Luzarraga.

State Senator Tony Vargas was also at the rally organized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska, American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, I Be Black Girl and the Omaha Women’s Fund. Vargas, who is also running for Congress in Nebraska’s second district, voted against LB 933 earlier this year. 

“We need solidarity, we need people showing up, we need to make sure people’s voices are heard,” Vargas said. “I wanted them [protestors] to see elected officials and people that are candidates running for office standing alongside them.”

Demonstrators also emphasized the importance of the upcoming May 10 primary as many gubernatorial and congressional candidates making abortion a prime campaign issue. Nationally, a formal Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v. Wade is expected to be released within the next two months, only then will the holding be final.

For some in attendance, the demonstration felt like whiplash. Just a few days earlier they’d celebrated the filibuster that blocked last session’s abortion’s bill. Now those like Tani Spacher and Kathy Conlon are throwing themselves back into the fight.

Tani Spacher and Kathy Conlon stand for a portrait during a rally at Omaha City Hall on May 3, 2022. Photo by Isa Luzarraga.

“I don’t want to see things go back decades,” Spacher, a Californian native turned Nebraskan said. “It’s totally disgusting that they would even think about undoing what has taken years to accomplish. What it’s going to do to women is just unbelievable.”

If the case is overturned and the special session of the legislature is held, Spacher and Conlon plan to attend.

“I read recently that you can tell that democracy is slipping by the way women are treated,” Conlon said “That’s why we’re here.”

contact the writer at isa@thereader.com


Subscribe to The Reader Newsletter

Our awesome email newsletter briefing tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Omaha. Delivered to your inbox every day at 11:00am.

Become a Supporting Member

Subscribe to thereader.com and become a supporting member to keep locally owned news alive. We need to pay writers, so you can read even more. We won’t waste your time, our news will focus, as it always has, on the stories other media miss and a cultural community — from arts to foods to local independent business — that defines us. Please support your locally-owned news media by becoming a member today.

Isa Luzarraga

Isa Luzarraga (she/her) is a current honors student at Emerson College in Boston, MA majoring in journalism and minoring in media studies and Latinx studies. She graduated from Millard North High School...

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