Tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets in hundreds of demonstrations across the country on Saturday to defend abortion rights following a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark law that legalized abortion nationwide.
From Maine to Hawaii, protesters are heading to more than 370 rallies, with the largest gatherings expected in New York, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles and Washington DC.
Protests dubbed “Bans Off Our Bodies” actions by organizers aim to show the “grave threat” facing abortion rights and pressure lawmakers to find ways to codify those rights. rights in federal and state laws, they said.
A majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but many remain open to some restrictions on it, according to the Pew Research Center.
“We lose the rights to our bodies in 2022,” said a young woman at the rally in Washington, DC.
She joined crowds of people who initially gathered at the Washington Monument to express concern about a future without access to legal abortions and many of whom expressed concern that overthrowing Roe could lead to additional restrictions on reproductive health.
A woman has opened up about an ‘alleyway abortion’ she had at age 13 for the first time while attending the rally in Washington, DC
“It was the worst experience of my life, and I can’t believe we’re going to go back to that,” she said. “It’s a tragedy.”
Legal experts have previously warned that overthrowing Roe could result in some birth control bans. Other experts are also sounding the alarm about the negative consequences this could have on miscarriage care.
About 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications, and 3 in 5 deaths are estimated to be preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly two dozen states are likely to ban abortions or severely restrict access to the procedure if Roe is overturned. In 13 of those states, “trigger laws” would be activated banning all abortions within 30 days.
“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.
The Women’s March, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, Liberate Abortion, ACLU, NARAL Pro-Choice America, SEIU and dozens of other groups held Saturday’s rallies.
Although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that abortions have declined in recent years, the procedure is still common. The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights think tank, estimates that nearly one in four women in the United States will have had an abortion before the age of 45.
Teisha Kimmons, a protester from the Chicago rally, 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,” Kimmons, 46, said. “We must vote for pro-choice politicians because women’s lives depend on it.”
The protests come three days after the Senate failed to advance a Democratic-led bill that would have preserved broad protections for legal abortion across the country.
Antonia Hylton and Associated Press contributed.