WASHINGTON- Abortion rights advocates gathered Saturday in the nation’s capital and in state capitol buildings across the country for a difficult task: to persuade the Supreme Court not to overturn the 50-year precedent set by Roe c. Wade.
Tens of thousands of people participated in protests from Pittsburgh to Pasadena, California, and Nashville, Tennessee.
In Washington, DC, protesters predicted there would be more rallies, especially after the Supreme Court issued its final ruling on Mississippi bans most abortions after 15 weeks pregnant as some state legislatures are considering outright bans.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, told the crowd that congressional Republicans would likely opt for a nationwide ban on abortion, ignoring states that allow the practice. Thanking the crowd for their “righteous outrage,” Lee said “we fought these battles 50 years ago,” but they will have to do it again.
“We all know this is a time of crisis,” Lee said.
More than 380 “Bans Off Our Bodies” demonstrations for abortion rights are planned for Saturday, with the biggest scheduled for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Austin, Texas, according to organizers. Sponsors of the one-day event include Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, MoveOn, American Civil Liberties Union and National Abortion Rights Action League.
Planned Parenthood began organizing the nationwide “day of action” months before a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision leak, spark celebrations of anti-abortion protesters and protests outside the Supreme Courtwhich is now surrounded by a security fence, and the houses of justice.
The demonstrations occur a few days after the The Senate failed to pass a bill which would have enshrined a national right to abortion.
In Austin, Texas, protesters stood on the steps of the Texas Capitol building banging drums, singing and repeating chants like “abortion is a human right”, KVUE reported. Texas just passed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, prohibiting the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy.
In downtown Binghamton, New York, protesters held up signs with the central motto of the event and wire hangers, per WBNG 12.
In Washington, thousands of abortion-rights supporters gathered near the Washington Monument 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 heard.
“We can pressure them,” said Sandra Harrington, 61, a retired public education administrator from Warrenton, Va. “I unfortunately think it’s a done deal, and I’m terribly sad about that.”
Protesters in the nation’s capital gathered under cloudy skies and the occasional drizzle. Rain is forecast throughout the afternoon, with temperatures around 70 degrees. Many attendees wore ponchos and carried umbrellas.
More than 15,000 protesters are expected to attend the rally in downtown Washington, according to a permit filed with the National Park Service.
“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.
Supporters wearing pro-Roe t-shirts gathered on the stage where speakers are due to address the crowd shortly after noon. Protesters must then walk more than 15 blocks down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building itself to appeal directly on the abortion issue.
As organizers handed out signs, many protesters made their own signs with more personal and impactful messages, including “Abort SCOTUS” and “You Can’t Ban Abortions, You Can Only Ban Safe Abortions.”
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 yours.”
A growing crowd also formed in Cleveland, Ohio chanting phrases such as “OHIO abortion bans must go” according to footage shared on social media from the scene.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend a rally in Chicago, 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.
Contribute: The Associated Press