Chattanooga anti-abortion advocates celebrate, look toward future after Supreme Court decision

Chattanoogans who fought to have the city's abortion clinic closed roughly 30 years ago said while the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is momentous, there's still more work to be done around the issue of abortion.

Doug Daugherty, an anti-abortion activist and president of the conservative policy advocacy group Hamilton Flourishing, compared the Supreme Court's decision Friday to World War II's "D-Day," when allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied Europe.

Though the Allies ultimately won the war, it took 11 months of battles before the Axis powers surrendered.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Daugherty said he expects years' worth of political, legal, religious, medical and individual battles now that each state has the ability to craft its own abortion restrictions.

"This is going to be the central issue. It's going to rally people on both sides, and the other side's going to lose," Daugherty said, speaking at a news conference Monday at the National Memorial for the Unborn in Chattanooga. The venue previously housed the abortion clinic that closed.

(READ MORE: Supreme Court decision further limits abortion access for Chattanooga women)

The news conference was to announce a celebration prayer event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Chapel Chattanooga, 3415 Broad St.

"We'll be celebrating, but we'll also be praying into the future," Daugherty said.

Seating is limited to 800, and the virtual event will be broadcast across the country, according to the Calvary Chapel website.

"Our community will join thousands of others across the nation to show solidarity through prayer for our country as we celebrate the protection of life and our unborn. Local and national speakers will lead this time of prayer," said a news release from Hamilton Flourishing.

Anti-abortion activist Charles Wysong also spoke at Monday's news conference and said "abortion represents the greatest moral injustice in the history of the world" but that "God has awakened the conscience of the nation" in light of the Supreme Court's decision.

Rights vigil

Meanwhile, abortion-rights groups in the Chattanooga region continue to fight for improved access to abortion and other reproductive rights.

The Chattanooga Health Advocacy Team will host a "vigil for the protection of abortion rights" from 7-10 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Frazier Avenue and the Walnut Street Bridge.

"We chose this holiday weekend to hold this vigil because, as some people are celebrating U.S. independence, we are mourning the loss of our bodily freedom," Shannon Hardaway, founding leader of the team, said in a news release. "Almost 50 years ago, Americans gained the right to abortion, and last week, we lost that right. We are mourning that loss."

The vigil will be silent, and many of those attending are opting to tape their mouths shut in symbolic protest, according to the release.

"We are dedicated to fight for abortion rights," Hardaway said. "In addition, we wanted to honor those that have fought for abortion rights in the past, those that have died from unsafe abortions and the people who will continue to fight for safe, legal and accessible abortion."

In Whitfield County, Georgia, an abortion-rights protest is set to take place outside the courthouse and City Hall buildings on July 9. The event is still being planned, and a time has not been released.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673. Follow her on Twitter @ecfite.