WASHINGTON – Abortion rights advocates gathered in the nation’s capital and state capitol buildings across the country on Saturday for a challenging task: persuading the Supreme Court not to reverse the 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
After listening to abortion speeches–human rights activists, elected officials and religious leaders in the nation’s capital, thousands of protesters embarked on an hour-long march to the Supreme Court under overcast skies and occasional drizzle, joining several hundred other protesters who were already there.
Many participants wore ponchos and carried umbrellas and chanted chants such as “hands off our bodies” and “we’ll fight back” to the sound of bucket drums. Some said they doubted the conservative Supreme Court would change course and vote in favor of Roe v. Wade But they said they wanted their voices to be heard.
“We can put pressure on them,” said Sandra Harrington, 61, a retired public education administrator from Warrenton, Va.. “Unfortunately, I think it’s a closed deal, and I’m very sad about it.”
More than 380 “Bans Off Our Bodies” demonstrations for abortion rights were planned for Saturday. Sponsors of the one-day event included the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, MoveOn, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Rights Action League.
Planned Parenthood began organizing the national “day of action” months before a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade leaked, prompting cheers from anti-abortion protesters and protests outside the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by a security fence, and the justice houses.
Prior to Saturday’s protests, the Senate failed to pass a bill that would enshrine the national right to abortion.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered in Legislative Square in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon, with additional rallies scheduled across the state.
Amy Griffith said she is a Christian but doesn’t believe abortion should be banned.
“We are not a theocracy,” she said, echoing the sign she carried.
His daughter Leah Griffith said public support is largely in favor of keeping abortion legal, pointing to recent polls that found more than half of Americans support it. She also said she fears states that ban abortion will only make it unsafe, especially for people without the resources to access it in other states.
“It’s going to happen regardless of whether it’s legal,” Leah Griffith said as she held up a sign with a snake in the shape of a womb that read “don’t step on me.”
Seeta Begui, one of the speakers at Saturday’s rally in Viera, Florida, said a formative experience from her childhood occurred when a family member died in Trinidad and Tobago following a clandestine abortion.
“We are still fighting for reproductive rights. We cannot allow hatred, ignorance and misinformation to win,” she said. “Let’s not back down.”
Hundreds of people gathered in Old Town Square in Fort Collins, Colorado, for a rally with a dozen speakers, including a labor and delivery nurse who worked in a pre-Roe world, several abortion rights advocates and authorities. elected.
Many people brought homemade signs with drawings of hangers saying “Never again” or phrases like: “Shame SCOTUS”, “Accept my existence or expect resistance” and “Woman is no one’s property”. Rallies were also planned in Colorado Springs and Denver.
Annmarie Izuel Evans, vice president of the NoCo National Organization for Women, who helped plan and run the event, said it was “horrible” that protesters had to gather today.
“Roe v. Wade was signed into law in (1973),” she told the crowd. “We need to unite, we need to mobilize, we need to act and, I will say this throughout the day, we need to vote.”
About 400 people gathered in front of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, including mothers and daughters. Pink was the predominant color of the day, with T-shirts displaying messages that included “Prohibition of our bodies” and posters that read “Abolish the Supreme Court” and “Abortion is Health.”
Across the street from the rally, Margo Weiss and her 3-year-old daughter Amelie painted a giant mural in primary colors that read “Ban our bodies.”
“This issue is important to me,” said Margo Weiss. “It’s good to show our kids what’s possible if you use your voice.”
Deborah O’Brien was one of several hundred protesters who gathered with flags, posters and hangers outside the Ohio Statehouse.
“I just can’t believe we’re back at this again,” said the 70-year-old. “I’m really, really upset.”
Crowds blocked the streets outside the State House and chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the abortion ban has to end.” Anti-abortion advocates, including the group “Created Equal”, also put up posters outside the rally, with pictures of aborted fetuses.
In Austin, Texas, Protesters stood on the steps of the Texas Capitol Bbuilding drumming, singing and repeating chants like “abortion is a human right,” KVUE reported. Texas recently passed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, banning the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy.
In New York, thousands gathered in Brooklyn’s courthouse square before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan, where another rally was planned.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend a rally in Chicago, said she fears for women in states that are ready to ban abortions. 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 self-harm and would rather die than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist in Rockford, Illinois.
In Washington, a single anti-abortion activist stood on the sidelines with a megaphone shouting, “They are not your bodies,” but protesters shouted louder to drown him out.
“I’m here for my daughter and my daughter’s daughter,” said Jen Giordano, 51, a saleswoman who traveled from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina on Saturday morning to attend the DC rally.
Deborah Stoll, 70, a retired clinical psychologist from Takoma Park, Maryland, carried a handmade sign that read “The hardest decision a woman can make is not hers.”
Protesters predicted there will be more rallies, especially after the Supreme Court issues its final ruling on Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, as some state legislatures consider bans outright.
Representative Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told the Washington crowd that Congressional Republicans would likely go for a nationwide ban on abortion, bypassing states that allow the practice. Thanking the crowd for their “righteous indignation,” Lee said that “we’ve been fighting these battles for 50 years,” but they’ll have to do it again.
“We all know this is a time of crisis,” said Lee, who recalled how scared he was of having an abortion at age 15 in Mexico.
Contributing: Rachel Wegner, Molly Davis, The Tennessean; Molly Bohannon, Fort Collins Coloradoan; Thomas Hanks, The Dispatch of Columbus; Linda Borg, The Providence Journal; The Associated Press