tshirts bake sale

T-shirts and other merchandise are sold at the bake sale benefiting abortion rights groups on June 22, 2019.

Magazine Merchant House was packed Saturday afternoon as hundreds gathered to buy baked goods, alcoholic beverages and other merchandise in support of abortion rights groups.

All proceeds from the event — titled “Just Cause - A Boozy Bake Sale for Reproductive Rights” — benefited Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and the New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF).

It’s one of several abortion rights events that have occurred in the city since a bill that would ban abortions once an embryo’s heartbeat could be detected — around the sixth week of pregnancy — was passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The law will only go into effect if courts uphold a similar Mississippi law.

Tables lined the brick walls of the venue filled with alcohol and sweets, ranging from almond brittle brown-butter blondies to “F*** your abortion ban” cupcakes, from more than 50 local chefs and bartenders. 

Petrice Sams-Abiodun of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast stood at a table near the front of the venue passing out free condoms, stickers and signs for the organization. “We want these bans off our body,” Sams-Abiodun told Gambit. “The bans are hurting women. It’s hurting our health care.”

Local artist and designer Ashlee Jones of Smallchalk designed the event’s logo and merchandise, and hints of the light blue and pink branding could be seen throughout the venue. Jones said she got involved because she felt “really passionately about the cause” and already had connections to the local food scene through her husband Brett Jones, who owns the taco restaurant Barracuda.

In the weeks leading up to the event, organizers and participants faced some opposition from anti-abortion groups, leading to an increased police presence and a few participants to withdraw from the event altogether.

Louisiana Right to Life organized a “Save Future Foodies” campaign in response to the event, encouraging its members to contact participating restaurants and businesses to voice their opposition. The campaign’s logo depicted a fetus wearing a chef’s hat and whisk.

Mandeville web radio host Mike Church announced on Facebook last week that he was hosting a “Make NOLA Catholic Again” event at St. Patrick’s Church on Camp Street.  

While the venue itself was devoid of any protesters in its opening hours, dozens showed up with Church on the other side of the street under a nearby overpass with signs reading "Take my hand not my life" and "Honk against the sin of abortion."

Mandie Landry, a Democratic candidate running for House District 91, said she hadn’t expected protesters to show, noting that she is used to getting backlash on the internet for supporting abortion rights. “That comes with the territory,” she said.

Landry said the large turnout at the event signals that there are a lot of people in favor of access to abortion in the city.

“I think it’s important for those of us who can to be public about our views on reproductive rights because clearly there’s a lot of us, Landry said. “A lot of times, especially with issues like abortion or very sensitive issues, people think, ‘No one thinks like me, or no agrees with me,’ and that’s not true. I mean look at all these people here.”

Correction: This story was updated to reflect the protest that was held under a nearby overpass.

Follow Kaylee Poche on Twitter: @kaylee_poche