Anthony and Amanda Verdi take action in the midst of abortion bans
Fear of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide — has been building incrementally in the past few years.
First, President Donald Trump took office with strong support among pro-life conservatives. Then, Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court, shifting the ideological balance of the court to the right.
And in 2019, a wave of legislation has been chipping away at reproductive rights. Multiple states, including Ohio, have passed so-called heartbeat bills, prohibiting abortions at six weeks or later. In May, Alabama's governor went a step further, signing a law banning nearly all abortions in the state.
“Just being on any social networking site, we could see the outrage,” said Columbus resident Anthony Verdi. “No one was doing anything about it. So we were like, ‘Why don't we just have a gathering at the Statehouse and make a couple signs?'”
Verdi and his wife, Amanda, created a Facebook event for “The March for Reproductive Freedoms,” which will take place Friday, June 7, at the Statehouse. The response has been substantial, with more than 500 people interested in attending.
“This is control over our bodies and it's out of hand,” Amanda said. “It's not something that's OK anymore, not for us, not for our kids, not for our kids' kids. … It's going to be catastrophic if we let this continue.”
Before the Verdis were living in Columbus with their two young children, they were in New York, participating in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest against economic inequality. In the thick of the movement, they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and even lived in the encampment with other protesters in Zuccotti Park.
“I worked a kitchen for a while,” Amanda said. “We had a sustainable community. It was really nice for a long time, but [then] the NYPD raided us.”
The couple continued its activism, getting involved in offshoots like Occupy Sandy, a 2012 relief effort to assist hurricane victims. Upon moving to Columbus for more affordable living, they've remained engaged, supporting myriad social causes.
“We just kept vigilant,” Anthony said. “Mainly delivering food to people who need it in the South End or the East Side. It all boils down to priority. We're trying to help the community.”
In the midst of the new limitations on abortion rights, the Verdis are not the only ones moved to act. On Tuesday, May 21, thousands of people in states across the country participated in #StoptheBans demonstrations at statehouses.
“If this isn't the country we want to be, now is the time to be loud about it,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted.
For their part, Amanda and Anthony Verdi said they want to create awareness about the rights restrictions and the increasing political power on the right.
“The biggest issue is ignorance,” Anthony said. “There's a lot going on. … We're only two people and we're willing to work with anybody.”