Abortion rights supporters took to the streets across the United States on Saturday to make clear their anger at the prospect of the Supreme Court soon striking down the constitutional right to abortion. Cries of “My body, my choice” rang out as activists pledged to fight for what they called reproductive freedom.
Outraged after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would vote to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade, activists rallied to express their outrage and mobilize for the future as Republican-led states are poised to enact tougher restrictions.
In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered at the Washington Monument before marching on the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by two layers of security fencing.
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Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, was wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar and a necklace that said “vote.”
“I believe that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think that banning abortion stops abortion. It just makes it unsafe and it can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.
From Pittsburgh to Pasadena, California, and from Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands participated in “Bans Our Bodies” events. Organizers hoped that among the hundreds of events, the largest would be held in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other big 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 before the march.
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Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion _ at least in the early stages of pregnancy _ but the Supreme Court appeared poised to let the states have the final say. If that happens, about half of the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.
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Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are ready to ban abortion. She said that she might not be alive today if she had not had a legal abortion when she was 15 years old.
“I was already starting to self-harm and would have rather died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.
At that rally, speaker after speaker told the crowd that if abortion is banned, the rights of immigrants, minorities and others will also be “gutted,” as Amy Eshleman, wife of Chicago Mayor Lori, put it. Lightfoot.
“This has never been 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 to happen,” he added.
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The next high court ruling in a Mississippi case is set to energize voters, which could shape the upcoming midterm elections.
In Texas, which has a strict law banning many abortions, a challenger to one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress marched in San Antonio.
Jessica Cisneros joined the protesters just days before early voting begins in her primary runoff against U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar. The race could be one of the first tests of whether the court leak will boost voters.
In Chicago, Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse caring for her 1- and 3-year-old daughters, agreed with the need to vote. “Just like in federal elections, voting in every small election is just as important,” she said.
Saturday’s demonstrations come three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included the Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.
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