Abortion rights supporters have staged hundreds of marches and rallies across the US to express outrage that the Supreme Court appears willing to remove the constitutional right to termination.
After a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority will quash the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, which has made abortion legal for nearly half a century, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly as Republican-led states are ready. to impose stricter restrictions.
In the country’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather on Saturday at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.
The vote was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to gather enough votes to enshrine Roe v Wade as federal law.
Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government official preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights, said: “I can’t believe I still have to protest this at my age. †
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 with “vote” on it.
She said: “I think women should have the right to choose what they want to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and could cost a woman her life.”
From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, and Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands took part in events that echoed the chants “Forbid Our Bodies” and “My Body, My Choice.”
The meetings were largely peaceful, but in some towns there were tense clashes between people on opposite sides of the issue.
Polls show that most Americans want to maintain access to abortion — at least in the early stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court seems poised to let states have the last word.
If that happens, about half of the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to ban abortion soon.
The fight was personal to some who came out on Saturday.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the rally in Chicago, said she fears 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,” she said.
At the same meeting, speaker after speaker said that if abortion is banned, the rights of immigrants, minorities and others will also be “stripped”.
Amy Eshleman, wife of Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, told the thousands, “This was never just about abortion. It’s about control.
“My marriage is on the menu and we cannot and will not let that happen.”
In New York, thousands of people gathered in the Brooklyn Courthouse Square for a march 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 in store for them,” said Angela Hamlet, 60, of Manhattan.
Robin Seidon, who traveled for the meeting from Montclair, New Jersey, said the nation is in a place abortion rights advocates have long feared.
“They nibbled at the edges, and it was always a matter of time before they thought they had enough power in the Supreme Court, which they have now,” said Ms. Seidon, 65.
At many of the rallies, speakers took the issue in stark terms, saying that people will die if abortions are banned.
In Los Angeles, high-profile attorney Gloria Allred told how she couldn’t get a legal abortion after being raped at gunpoint in the 1960s. She said she suffered life-threatening bleeding after having an abortion in an alleyway.
“I want you to vote like your life depended on it, because they do,” she told the crowd, looking ahead to the upcoming midterm elections.