Rosann slept on a blanket in the freezing rain. Aimee and Lisa, bundled up in sweatshirts, kept vigil through the night, taking breaks only to go to the bathroom. Chandler relied on delivery Dominos pizza and her "All You Need Is Love" shirt to power through her third day camping out on a sidewalk.
They were just four of the hundreds of women from different corners of the country who spent long hours in the bone-chilling cold because they wanted to be a part of history Wednesday as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in one of the most significant cases on abortion access in a generation.
Dozens of people camped out overnight in the nation's capital in hopes of watching the arguments unfold live. Others traveled hundreds of miles to show their support as part of dueling demonstrations on the courthouse steps.
"It's one thing to express yourself on social media, but to actually be here in the physical shows your full effort, your full support that this is an issue that we need to address," said Brayah Marson, a 19-year-old from Georgia who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the day to attend a pro-abortion rights rally. "We sacrificed time, school work to be here not only for us, but for the generation to come. Even people we don't know are affected by this."
"This" is Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,
a challenge to Texas' sweeping new abortion regulations. The Supreme Court's decision in the case could determine not just the fate of the law, HB2, but how far other states can go in setting standards and requirements for abortion providers.
Supporters of the Texas law, which was famously fillibustered by state Sen. Wendy Davis
, say the new rules are necessary to protect the health of women. But critics say it is part of a troubling pattern of "TRAP" (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) — regulations aimed at shuttering clinics and restricting access to abortion that masquerade as safety measures.
"We are at a real inflection point — this case will literally determine the constitutionality of these laws and it could determine reproductive access for decades," Dawn Porter, the filmmaker behind Trapped,
a new documentary on the issue, told Refinery29. "There hasn't been a more important case in front of the Supreme Court in 25 years."
Refinery29 traveled to Washington this week to cover the historic case and speak with the women (and men) on both sides of the issue who braved the cold and crowds to express their views.