A Conversation with Anne Applebaum and Katie Couric: The State of American Democracy


Thursday, April 25, 2024, 12:00 pm EDT


Picture of BigTentUSA


We rallied up.

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On December 1, pro-choice and anti-abortion activists demonstrated outside the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol as the Nine heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case posed to ban most abortions after 15 weeks. 

BigTenters proudly stood firm amid the fray while the Supreme Court spoke, often voicing to the media our concern for the potential erosion of rights that women have relied on since 1973. 



To be honest, it is not easy nor is it comfortable to demonstrate for women’s rights. So why did we—a group of busy moms—choose to travel to DC amid the hectic holiday season?  Because we still can. Because this is the moment—THE MOMENT—Republicans have been planning and plotting for decades.  

Make no mistake—the far Right is not interested in life—that’s clear from how they vote against any support for life’s essentials. They want control. 

The abortion debate is, as RBG believed, ultimately about gender equality. In 1973, Roe v. Wade granted women the right to control our bodies, our lives, and our futures. 

But pro-control men (and a few power-drunk women) want control not only of their own lives, they want control over women’s lives too. It was impossible to tune out the deafening bullhorn, ‘Keep your legs together, you whores.’  

As Charles Blow states in his recent column in the New York Times, “No civil rights are inviolable and permanent. Every right you win, you must defend. Rights, unfortunately, can be withdrawn. Whether Roe v. Wade falls or is significantly diminished, it will raise the question: Which rights are next?” 

While ‘Equal justice for all’ is carved in stone on the Supreme Court frieze, it is clear—based on the justices’ questioning—that this court is leaning political. 

Our freedoms are not guaranteed. We have to work for it. We must be vigilant now. 


  • Center for Reproductive Rights (who also brought in the legal team to argue the case), NARAL, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Amnesty International, Power to Decide, National Council of Jewish Women, Catholics4Choice. And also a flood of Liberty University students, Moral Outcry, Life Riders, Bible Believers (aka Official Street Preachers), National Right to Life. The crowd rallying with CRR swelled to about 400, blocking anti-abortion demonstrators with fear-mongering bullhorns and images of 15-week fetuses. 
  • The media. Big Tenters were at the ready to broadcast our voices.   
  • Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Blumenthal (D-CT), and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Diana DeGette (D-CO). Also, apparently MTG was there.  She was all over news coverage, though we never saw her.


  • Americans are passionate on both sides of this issue.  It is critical–CRITICAL–to stay alert, aware, and aloud.
  • The Justices have revealed their stance. It’s time to codify Roe.
  • Choice vs. Control is at stake. Pro-life is a lie–these folks care nothing about life after the womb. It’s far more accurate to say Pro-control.
  • Activism is a positive way to step outside of our bubble. I don’t think any of us will ever forget chatting with two brave women who drove from Tulsa with the best homemade signs. Or the U.S. Capitol Police, who are truly heroes. Thank them often. Their presence kept this crowd peaceful.
  • The press is very thirsty for content, and BigTenters were ready to step up to the mic. What we see on TV is not the full story.
  • More pre-game coordination is needed to make an indelible impact.
  • RBG is a magnet.
BigTentUSA founding member, Emilie Powers, gives an interview


Read. To stay informed. Here are a few suggestions to start you off:


Give. To any of the organizations that showed up. We’ve listed a few here who continue to do the hard lifting for all of us.


Act.  To codify women’s rights.

  • Voice support for the Women’s Health Protection Act here.
  • Help young folks register to vote, then chat with them about why it’s critical to vote in every election. The Center for Voter Information is a great resource.
  • Support local politics, maybe even Run for Something.
  • Pay attention to lower ballot elections, especially Judges and Attorneys’ General.
  • Send notes of thanks to your Congressional representatives for protecting our Constitutional right to choose the healthiest paths for women’s lives.


Most of us took a quick flight from HPN to DCA, then caught an Amtrak at Union Station 24 hours later for an easy trip north.

  • We arrived in DC following the trail of the Potomac as the setting sunbathed our National Mall in golden light. After walking to the end of a very long taxi line, we opted to squeeze into one big Lyft, as this group of suburban moms were well aware that a Suburban can carry more than 5. 
  • We stayed at Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill—which served as mission central for various groups poised to march.  
  • A quick morning walk led us to the Supreme Court steps where pro-choice organizations were prepped and ready to hand out fabulous free swag and signage. 
  • Rest stops and refreshments are conveniently located on 3rd and Pennsylvania and in Union Station. 
  • Plan ahead to visit the Smithsonian—especially the National Museum of African American History, which is worth dedicating a full day on it own—and the National Archives, where you can view the original Constitution and Bill of Rights.