Monday, 28 Nov 2022

A night of hell: abortion activists on their inhumane detention in DC

A night of hell: abortion activists on their inhumane detention in DC


A night of hell: abortion activists on their inhumane detention in DC

Three women who peacefully protested against restrictions on abortion rights in the US supreme court were mistreated and detained in "inhumane" conditions after their arrest, they say.

Their experience shows unsettling treatment in a landscape where pregnant people, medical providers and others increasingly face criminalization after the Dobbs decision on reproductive care.

The women - a 71-year-old great-grandmother, a suburban soccer mom and a therapeutic massage therapist - arrived at the supreme court before sunrise, waiting more than four hours for tickets to attend a hearing open to the public on 2 November.

Emily Paterson, a CEO and mom of two who lives in northern Virginia, stood up first. "I respectfully rise to denounce Dobbs. Women of America, vote," she said, holding her hands up to show they were empty.

Then Rolande Baker, a great-grandmother and former schoolteacher who lives in Tucson, Arizona, stood to say: "The right to choose will not be taken away. Women, vote for our right to choose," followed by Nikki Enfield, who said: "We will restore our freedom to choose. Women of America, vote!"

Protesting in the court is forbidden, despite other laws guaranteeing the right to peaceful protest, so it wasn't very surprising they were arrested, experts said. But the mistreatment they say they encountered in more than 30 hours of detention may violate constitutional and international rights.

The women were transferred a total of four times, almost always in dark, tightly packed transport vehicles that reached temperatures up to about 100F (38C), they said. Up to five people sat shoulder to shoulder on each bench, with their knees almost touching the wall in front of them. Bars, like on a rollercoaster ride, settled over their laps and under their chins.

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