Abortion-rights supporters, who demonstrated in hundreds of marches and rallies on Saturday, expressed their outrage that the US Supreme Court appears poised to abolish the constitutional right to abortion, which has existed for nearly half a century, and their fear that what this might mean for women’s reproductive decisions.
Angered after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly as Republican-led states poised to enact tougher restrictions.
In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered at the Washington Monument in drizzly weather to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.
The mood was one of anger and defiance three days after the Senate failed to collect enough votes to pass Roe v. to code Wade.
“I can’t believe at my age I still have to protest this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government worker preparing for a state abortion rights fight.
Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “Dissident” collar and a necklace that read “Vote.”
“I think women should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think that banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes them insecure and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.
Half a dozen anti-abortion opponents sent a counter-message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone, “Abortion is not healthcare, folks, because pregnancy is not a disease.”
From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and Nashville, Tennessee to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands attended events where chants such as “Ban our bodies!” were sung. and “My body, my choice!” sounded. The gatherings were largely peaceful, but tense arguments erupted between people on different sides of the issue in some cities.
Polls show that most Americans want access to abortion — at least in the early stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court seemed willing to let the states have the final say. If that happens, about half the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to ban abortion quickly.
The fight was personal for some who came out on Saturday. In Seattle, some protesters carried photographic images of conservative judges’ heads on sticks.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she feared for women in states ready to ban abortion. She said she might not be alive today if she hadn’t had a legal abortion when she was 15.
“I was already starting to hurt myself, and I would rather have died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.
Pro-abortion rights protesters demonstrate on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, May 14, 2022 during nationwide protests. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
At the rally, speaker after speaker said that banning abortion would also “gutt” the rights of immigrants, minorities and others, as Amy Eshleman, wife of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, put it.
“This was never just about abortion. It’s about control,” Eshleman told the crowd of thousands. “My marriage is on the menu and we cannot and will not allow that.”
In New York, thousands of people gathered in the Brooklyn Courthouse plaza before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan for another rally.
“We’re here for the women who can’t be here and for the girls who are too young to know what’s coming,” said Angela Hamlet, 60, of Manhattan, to the background of blaring music.
Robin Seidon, who traveled to the rally from Montclair, NJ, said the nation has come to a place abortion advocates have long feared.
“They nibbled at the edges, and it was always a matter of time before they thought they had enough clout on the Supreme Court that they have now,” said Seidon, 65.
The upcoming High Court ruling in a Mississippi case will energize voters and potentially shape the upcoming midterm elections.
In Texas, where a strict law bans many abortions, the challenger of one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress marched in San Antonio.
Jessica Cisneros joined the protesters just days before early voting began in her first runoff against US Rep. Henry Cuellar, in what could be one of the first tests of whether the court leak will shake voters.
In Chicago, Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse with daughters ages 1 and 3, agreed on the need for voting. “Voting in every small election is just as important as the federal elections,” she said.
At many rallies, speakers made the issue clear, saying that if abortions were banned, people would die.
In Los Angeles, high-profile attorney Gloria Allred shared how she couldn’t get a legal abortion after being raped at gunpoint in the 1960s. She said she developed life-threatening bleeding after having an abortion in a “back alley.”
“I want you to vote like your life depends on it, because they do,” she told the crowd.
Sharp reported from Portland, Maine. Associated Press writers Don Babwin in Chicago, David Porter in New York, Paul Weber in San Antonio, and Jacquelyn Martin, Gary Fields and Anna Johnson in Washington contributed to this report.
Read Also :