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'Going backward' | Hundreds march for abortion rights in Uptown Charlotte

Hundreds of people marched in Uptown Charlotte Sunday to support abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of people marched in Uptown Charlotte's Romare Bearden Park Sunday to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and remove the federal right to abortion. 

Hannah Dyer organized the march. She said the timing was right on Independence Day weekend. 

"It feels a little silly to celebrate a holiday that stands for independence and freedom when the majority of our country isn't independent or free," Dyer said. 

The Supreme Court's ruling now leaves abortion access up to individual states. A new law in South Carolina bans most abortions at six weeks, before most women know they're pregnant. North Carolina Republicans are calling on Attorney General Josh Stein to ask a federal court to restore a state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks

RELATED: 'Abortion is still health care' | Rep. Alma Adams advocates for abortion access

North Carolina Sen. Natasha Marcus, who represents District 41, spoke at Sunday's rally. 

“In a time when any other industrialized country is moving towards more rights for its citizens, the United States of America, once known for its liberty, land of the free … now going backward,” Marcus said.

A wave of green bandanas, clothing and body paint filled the park. Green is the universal color for abortion rights. It's a decision some demonstrators said should be left to the woman to make not the government.

“During my pregnancy, I found out that my son actually had a heart defect at the 20-week anatomy scan," Dyer said. "It was something that I made the choice to continue with my pregnancy.”

Taylor Gadsden was among those wearing green at the rally. It was the south Charlotte woman's first abortion rights march. 

“Sometimes there are situations that do not permit a safe home for a child and I don’t think that the people that are in charge think about things like that,” Gadsden said.

People in the crowds held signs like "No uterus no opinion" and "Women's rights are human rights."

“We are angry, we are worried, and we will not shut up because this is about basic rights to privacy and being able to control our own bodies,” Marcus shouted.

For others, the Supreme Court decision is a victory. Although North Carolina is currently a safe haven for abortions, Republican lawmakers are looking to change that and are pushing to reinstate the 20-week ban.

“North Carolinians can rest assured that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that current restrictions on the books will be enforced," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement. "North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January.”

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There is a court order in place that blocks the 20-week abortion ban in North Carolina. The state’s department of justice will be reviewing that order. 

Meanwhile, Marcus and other Democrats are pushing back.

“Support Senate Bill 888," Marcus shouted to the crowd. "Because we need to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade."

Senate Bill 888 would block any state from interfering with a pregnant person's right to an abortion.

“The Republican Party has already told us that they would pass a ban now if they could, but they can’t pass one now because we have a Democratic governor who would veto that,” Marcus explained. “And we have enough Democrats, including myself, in the General Assembly to uphold that veto.”

RELATED: Google to erase more location info as abortion bans expand

Gov. Roy Cooper has made it clear that he supports women to make their own medical decisions.

In a recent interview, Cooper said he is looking at using executive orders to protect women’s reproductive freedom and wants to make sure they have safe access to facilities in the state.

“We have a law in place that requires that law enforcement help people who are trying to get to clinics so that they cannot be obstructed by someone,” Cooper said. “We are going to work with the federal government to help provide access and support for women.”

Marcus said there is a tough battle ahead and it comes down to people making their voices count at the polls.

That is why Dyer is urging folks to elect those who prioritize a woman’s right to choose.

“It’s important for the states around us and especially those who live in North Carolina that we do everything that we can to keep North Carolina a blue state and a safe state for those who need abortions or contraceptives,” Dyer said.

Demonstrators say the fate of abortion rights comes down to having the right candidates in office and they are keeping their eyes on elections this fall.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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