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Shock. Anxiety. Elation. North Texans are confronting a new reality in the abortion rights debate

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Azul Sordo
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KERA News
Gena Teran Flores and her three children — King, Divinity, and Zues — listen to speakers from the Afiya Center at a pro-choice protest in Dallas Friday evening.

North Texans spent the weekend grappling with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

North Texans spent the weekend grappling with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Some took to the streets to protest, chanting “abortion is healthcare” and “hands off my body.”

Others rejoiced over the ruling from their church pews.

At First Baptist Dallas on Sunday, the congregation celebrated the Supreme Court's decision and Independence Day.

Folks in the pews sang “God Bless the U.S.A” with the church’s choir and musical guest Lee Greenwood.

As the stage erupted with fireworks, the crowd’s cheers echoed across the church. Known as Freedom Sunday, the congregation’s Independence Day celebration also included stunt men dropping from the ceiling dressed as armed service members.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor at First Baptist Dallas, called the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization a victory.

“This is not a victory for Republicans or conservatives,” said Jeffress, also a Fox News contributor who has close ties to former President Donald Trump. “This is a victory for the millions of yet to be born children who will now have a right to live.”

Jeffress said the court’s decision was a direct result of voting for Trump. On Sunday, he praised Christians for coming together to elect Trump, who nominated three of the Supreme Court Justices that voted to overturn Roe v Wade.

Waving American flags, the church members roared and rose from their pews when Jeffress thanked God for Trump.

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Azul Sordo
/
KERA News
Churchgoers rise as Lee Greenwood performs “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at First Baptist Dallas. Shortly after, pastor Robert Jeffress delivered a sermon celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Mike Deahl was in the crowd. The corporate attorney said the court’s decision had nothing to do with religion. He said Roe was a stretch because abortion isn’t explicitly mentioned in the constitution.

“Roe versus Wade was a bad decision,” Deahl said. “And so, I think from a constitutional law standpoint, I wasn't surprised that it was overturned.”

Still, Deahl said he understands why there were protests this weekend, even if it’s hard for him to comprehend why the protesters feel as though their rights have been threatened.

'It just feels unfair'

Several protesters who felt their rights were threatened by the court’s decision gathered in Fort Worth at the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse on Saturday.

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Azul Sordo
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KERA News
Hundreds of pro-choice protesters gather outside of the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth on Saturday.

Olivia Castillo is a recent graduate of Fort Worth's R.L. Paschal High School and former president of the Paschal Feminist Club, which organized the rally the day that the decision dropped. She said the politicians who made the choices that led to the fall of Roe v Wade don’t represent the will of the people.

 “We didn't vote for these elected officials, and they're all making decisions about our bodies and it just feels unfair,” Castillo said.

 Castillo said just years ago she had once considered herself “pro-life” but her views evolved as she learned more about reproductive options.

 “It's not as black and white as ‘life begins at conception.’ You know, you need to have empathy for the people who get pregnant,” Castillo said. “I think a mother really does deserve the right to choose and make the most informed decision about her body.”

 Zoe Seymore, another organizer of the Fort Worth rally, said her lived experience as an adoptee impacted her views on abortion.

 “There's a lot of like trauma associated being adopted, including like, abandonment issues and trust issues and I think it's something that I wouldn't really wish upon anyone,” Seymore said. “I don't think that adoption is an appropriate response to an abortion alternative.”

 Seymore said once the rallies end, she encourages people to vote with the November general election just a few months away.

 “The only way we're going to move forwards instead of go backwards if we have the right people in the government,” Seymore said.

Kawana Scott, who’s with the Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression Dallas, said the politicians who chose to take away the right to an abortion will still access that privilege themselves.

'All the burden'

Speaking at the Dallas protest she helped organize Frida evening — just hours after the decision was announced — Scott said that isn’t fair.

“You're sitting at the table eating and someone take your plate while they are eating,” she said. “It's sickening.”

 Scott, who’ said she's had an abortion, said she felt called to speak out for reproductive rights as a Black woman.

 Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scott said those racial inequities put women in an impossible situation. 

 “All the burden is put on women to make sure that things like this don't happen, who don't want it, but then there's no resources put into place to make sure that we're successful in doing that,” Scott said.

 Following the speakers, protesters marched through downtown Dallas from Civic Garden Park to Dealey Plaza, through the West End and back to the park.

 Xochitl Miranda, one of the many protesters, said they’re infuriated by the Supreme Court decision and that abortion is a human rights issue.

 “This is not just affecting women. This is affecting non-binary people,” Miranda said. “It's not just women's rights. It's all of us.”

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org and Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For America corps member for KERA News.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Pablo Arauz Peña is the breaking news reporter for KERA News.
Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.