Stars at the BET Awards on Sunday used their platforms to make statements about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade.
The award show’s host, Tarji P. Henson, greeted the audience after Lizzo opened the show with a performance. “That’s how you start a show. All this body positivity up in here. And also thank you, Lizzo, for pledging $1 million to Planned Parenthood,” Henson said.
“And you’re damn right, ‘It’s about damn time.’ It’s about damn time we step into our power,” Henson continued, quoting Lizzo’s song “About Damn Time.”
“It’s about time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman. It’s a sad day in America,” she said. “A weapon that can take lives has more power than a woman who can give life – if she chooses to. And it’s about time I got that off my chest.”
“I’d like to give a special, special shout out to Black women, to Black queer artists, to Black non-binary artists,” said singer Janelle Monáe while presenting the night’s first award. “These artists, making art on our own terms, owning our truths and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a world that tries to control and police our bodies, my body and our decisions, my decision. F*** you, Supreme Court.”
Monáe then presented the award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist to Jazmine Sullivan. The singer said she wanted to speak directly to men, asking them to stand with women. “If you’ve ever benefited from a woman making one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to terminate a pregnancy, you need to be standing with us. This is not just a woman’s issue. This is everybody’s issue,” Sullivan said.
When rapper Latto won the award for Best New Artist, she used part of her acceptance speech to make a statement. “It’s giving pro choice,” she said.
“It’s never giving a man policing my body,” she said.
On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling also overturns the precedent set with the court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, which guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion.
States now have the ability to set their own restrictions, so where people live will determine their level of access to abortion.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion, writing: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
The court’s three liberal justices dissented and Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a concurring opinion, writing that while he agrees that the viability line established under Roe should be discarded and Mississippi’s law upheld, the decisions made in the Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey cases should be left untouched.
Protests and celebrations outside the court – and across the country – began almost immediately after the decision was announced and continued throughout the weekend.