Among a sea of red shirts, dresses, and capes, a chant echoed through a crowd of more than 200 people–mostly women–gathered along the Burnside Bridge Monday.

"Hey hey! Ho ho! The Supreme Court has got to go!" the crowd shouted, led by organizers with megaphones. 

As the sun beat down on a row of women standing side-by-side just after noon, "two-four-six-eight; Separate the church and state!" came next. The chants marked a women's strike in Portland—part of a national day of action, or, inaction. The strike was organized in several cities as a show of protest against the US Supreme Court's 2022 ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that enshrined the right to abortion back in 1973. The 2022 ruling happened exactly two years ago. 

Women were encouraged to skip work, skip school, wear red, and buy nothing, unless purchasing goods from a woman-owned business. It was an effort to show what society looks like without women. The idea is modeled after a women's strike that took place in Iceland in 1975.

Angelita Morillo (right) leads a crowd in chants during a women's strike and rally on the
Burnside Bridge Monday, June 24. courtney vaughn

The collective sentiment driving Monday afternoon's strike? "Rage," according to Bonnie McNeil, who said she left work for part of the day to come rally. 

Reproductive rights were top of mind for those who skipped work or ditched their lunch plans to go stand on the side of a bridge and wave signs.

Standing next to McNeil on the bridge was Gretchen Ihms, whose kneecap boasts a tattoo of a coat hanger encircled by laurel leaves—a nod to an antiquated and unsafe method of inducing a D-I-Y abortion that was quietly relied on before the legalization of abortion in 1973. 

"I believe the woman's body is her own," Carolyn Johnson said, waving a small sign at traffic alongside hundreds of others. "It's outrageous that the Supreme Court overturned a totally legal decision against the will of the people."

While the women's strike was organized to protest gender inequality like the pay gap, as well as access to reproductive rights, nearly every sign, chant, and conversation at Portland's rally centered on the fight for abortion access.


State legislators and health officials note that Oregon has laws in place to protect the right to abortion, even as the legal landscape has shifted at the federal level. 

In 2022, in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision on abortion, Democratic lawmakers in Oregon formed a workgroup that included health care providers with the intent of crafting policy and budget decisions that would protect and expand access to reproductive rights and gender-affirming care.

Last year, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2002, which did just that. 

As lawmakers and advocacy groups work to support and shore up abortion access at the state level, passing motorists offered their own small gestures of support Monday, with honks and waves at protesters along the bridge.

A protester holds a sign that reads: "They won't
stop at Roe" during a women's strike and rally
on Portland's Burnside Bridge. courtney vaughn

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that access to Mifepristone, commonly known as the "abortion pill" should remain intact, even though there are no longer federal protections guaranteeing the right to abortion. The ruling means that Mifepristone can be mailed to patients without a trip to a doctor's office. 

While that ruling marked a sigh of relief for women across the United States, women's rights activists say their fight is far from over.

"We've been done wrong by the government," one protester said Monday. Another paced the bridge with a sign that read, "They Won't Stop at Roe."