WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion-rights supporters took to the streets across America on Saturday to express their anger at the prospect that the Supreme Court will soon strike down the constitutional right to abortion. Cries of “My body, my choice” rang out as activists pledged to fight for the legal protections that have endured for nearly half a century.
Angered by a leaked draft notice suggesting the court’s conservative majority would vote to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, activists rallied to express their outrage and rally for the future as Republican-led states are about to adopt stricter restrictions.
In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in rainy weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before heading to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by two layers of security barriers.
The mood was one of anger and defiance.
“I can’t believe that at my age I still have to protest this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government worker who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over the right to abortion.
Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black t-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissident” necklace and a necklace that spelled “vote”.
“I think women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it dangerous and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.
Half a dozen anti-abortion protesters sent out a counter message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone: ‘Abortion is not health care, folks, because pregnancy is not a disease “.
From Pittsburgh to Pasadena, California, and from Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands of people participated in “Bans off our Bodies” events. Organizers expected that of the hundreds of events, the biggest would be in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other major cities.
“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said ahead of the march.
Polls show most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the early stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appears poised to let states have the final say. If that happens, about half of the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, should quickly ban abortion.
The battle was personal for some protesters.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are prepared 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 self-harm and I would have rather died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.
At that rally, speakers told the crowd that if abortion were banned, the rights of immigrants, minorities and others would also be “emptied,” as Amy Eshleman, wife of the Chicago mayor, put it. , Lori lightfoot.
“It was never just about abortion. It’s about control,” Eshleman told the crowd of thousands. “My wedding is on the menu and we can’t and won’t let that happen,” she added.
In New York, thousands gathered in Brooklyn Courthouse Square ahead of a march over the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan where another rally was planned.
“We’re here for the women who can’t be here and for the girls who are too young to know what’s to come,” said Angela Hamlet, 60, of Manhattan, amid booming music.
Robin Seidon, who traveled from Montclair, New Jersey, for the rally, said the nation was a place abortion rights supporters had long feared.
“They nibbled at the edges, and it was always a matter of time before they thought they had enough power over the Supreme Court, which they have now,” Seidon, 65, said.
The upcoming High Court ruling in a Mississippi case is expected to energize voters, potentially shaping the upcoming midterm elections.
In Texas, where a strict law prohibits 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 Representative Henry Cuellar. The race could be one of the first tests of whether the court flight will galvanize voters.
In Chicago, Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse carrying girls aged 1 and 3, agreed on the need to vote. “As much as federal elections, voting in every little election matters just as much,” she said.
Saturday’s rallies come three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.
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 and Anna Johnson in Washington contributed to this report.