WASHINGTON (AP) — Protesters facing a Supreme Court decision that could overturn the constitutional right to abortion are trying to use coast-to-coast demonstrations on Saturday to express outrage and mobilize for the fight ahead.
More than 380 events took place from Maine to Hawaii, with the largest gatherings expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other major cities, organizers said.
In the nation’s capital, activists planned to gather at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, now surrounded by a security fence.
Tens of thousands of people were expected at the “Bans off our Bodies” events, which provided an outlet for anger and frustration for abortion rights activists over a leaked Supreme Court draft ruling suggested Roe v. Wade will be reversed.
“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’re going to have,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.
Polls show that most Americans want to maintain access to abortion — at least in the early stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court seemed 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.
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 have rather died than have a baby,” says Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.
The upcoming Supreme Court ruling in a Mississippi case will energize voters and potentially shape the upcoming midterm elections.
Kimmons, 46, said she believes the focus should be on those races. “We should vote in pro-choice politicians because women’s lives depend on it,” she said.
Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse, agreed on the need to vote.
“Just like in federal elections, voting in every small election is just as important,” said Nyquist, who drove her 1-year-old daughter in a stroller and held her 3-year-old daughter’s hand as she walked to the rally in Chicago.
Saturday’s demonstrations were held three days after the Senate failed to gather enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included the Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.