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Thousands in U.S. march under 'Ban Off Our Bodies' banner for abortion rights

WorldMay 15, 2022 11:00AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Some people rallying for abortion rights, including Hannah Yost, center right, argue with a man who gave his name as Joe Green, who is anti abortion, after an anti-climb protective fence was installed outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building 2/2

By Gabriella Borter and Costas Pitas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Thousands of abortion rights supporters rallied across the United States on Saturday, angered by the prospect that the Supreme Court may soon overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide a half century ago.

The protests kicked off what organizers predict will be a "summer of rage" ignited by the May 2 disclosure of a draft opinion showing the court's conservative majority ready to reverse the 1973 ruling that established a woman's constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.

The court's final ruling, which could return the power to ban abortion to state legislatures, is expected in June. About half of the 50 states are poised to ban or severely restrict abortion almost immediately should Roe be struck down.

"If you can't choose whether you want to have a baby, if that's not a fundamental right, then I don't know what is," said Brita Van Rossum, 62, a landscape designer who traveled from suburban Philadelphia to join the abortion-rights rally in the nation's capital, her first ever.

Protesters marching under the slogan "Bans Off Our Bodies" took to the streets from New York and Atlanta to Chicago and Los Angeles in a show of outrage that Democrats hope will help galvanize support for their party and blunt projected Republican gains in the November elections.

The day's largest demonstration unfolded in Washington, where a crowd that organizers estimated at 20,000 people massed at the Washington Monument and braved a light drizzle to march along the National Mall past the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court itself.

The rally erupted in shouts of "Shame" and "Bans off our bodies" as the marchers neared the marbled columns of the courthouse.

Surrounded by police was a group of a few dozen counter-demonstrators holding signs that read: "End abortion violence" and "Women's rights begin in the womb."

The encounter between the two sides grew tense at times. Abortion rights protesters shouted, “Go home!,” and one man whacked a counter-demonstrator in the head with his poster after profanities were exchanged. As the-anti abortion protesters left, they waved at the crowd, and a few called out, “Bye, Roe v. Wade!”

The rally appeared to remain otherwise peaceful, though at least one counter-protester was seen being escorted away by a security guard in Washington earlier in the day.

'WOMEN AS OBJECTS'

The mood was likewise energetic, and sometimes contentious, in New York City as thousands of abortion rights supporters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, where they were confronted by a half dozen anti-abortion activists.

Police officers arrived to maintain space between the two groups as they traded taunts and vulgarities. The crowd thinned out in early afternoon as rain fell over the city.

Elizabeth Holtzman, an 80-year-old former congresswoman who represented New York from 1973 to 1981, said that the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion "treats women as objects, as less than full human beings."

Malcolm DeCesare, a 34-year-old critical care nurse who attended a Los Angeles rally under sunny skies, said abolishing the right to a legal abortion could put lives at risk as women seek unsafe alternatives.

Celebrity women's rights attorney Gloria Allred told the crowd about her own "back alley abortion" as a young woman when she became pregnant from a rape at gunpoint before Roe. "I almost died," she recounted. "I was left in a bathtub in a pool of my own blood, hemorrhaging."

U.S. Representative Sean Casten and his 15-year-old daughter, Audrey, were among several thousand abortion rights supporters who gathered at a park in Chicago.

Casten, whose district includes Chicago's western suburbs, told Reuters it was "horrible" that the Supreme Court's conservative majority would consider taking away the right to an abortion and "condemn women to this lesser status."

At an abortion rights protest in Atlanta, more than 400 people had assembled in a small park in front of the state capitol, while about a dozen counter-protesters stood on a nearby sidewalk.

Holding a sign that read, "Stop Child Sacrifice," 23-year-old Bria Marshall, a recent public health graduate from Kennesaw State University, acknowledged her group's smaller turnout.

"Jesus had just a small group, but his message was more powerful," Marshall said.

While the Supreme Court leak thrust abortion back to the forefront of U.S. politics, it was unclear how the issue will play out in the coming elections.

Voters will be weighing a host of priorities such as inflation and may be skeptical of Democrats' ability to protect abortion access after legislation that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law failed.

Many of those marching on Saturday expressed fear that rolling back abortion rights would lead to an erosion of civil liberties generally.

"This is just an affront to everything I believe that we're supposed to be about," Los Angeles musician Joel Altshuler, 73, said. "If a woman has no control over what is going to happen to her own body, then we're back in 1850 not 1950.

Thousands in U.S. march under 'Ban Off Our Bodies' banner for abortion rights
 

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Comments (15)
Millennial Stacker
Millennial Stacker May 14, 2022 9:32PM ET
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Who cares?
gab nea
gab nea May 14, 2022 9:06PM ET
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if I may widen the abortion issue, all this talk restricts, controls women, blame her for everything and that's absolutely wrong. if this passes women will have to think out of the box because they are not at fault, period. a couple conceived that baby, not the woman, the couple may not have been able to keep their baby for many reasons, and it's the couple not wanting the baby that aborts it. so ladies, before you take your panties off, question the donor as to intentions and guarantees in writing as to support to the baby for life after birth. the state then could reward the capture of the runaway dad. if not the state should support that child created by their ban. better yet vote them out! quick.
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso May 14, 2022 8:47PM ET
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do they also support an individual's choice NOT to get vaccinated?
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 14, 2022 7:24PM ET
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Call the GOP the Na' _zis and Trump a Naz' )i sympathizer and you've got schism in America. Trump must also be a communist since he's acting like a communist. Trump installed the ultra-conservative supreme court justices who are now threatening to turn common sense on its head by having the conservative judges cause discord with a threat to interfere with every woman's body. The decision to prepare for, have, and care for a baby starts in the head, in the common sensed mind, and nowhere else. Not in the womb, only in the mind. It takes severe mindfulness and discipline to prepare for a baby and perform methodical steps to create reality and the future. -- Only uneducated and mentally stiff and incompetent people will tell women what they should be doing with their body and their reproductive organs. Don't listen to silly men like Trump and the GOP who are absorbed with themselves and out of touch with reality about a woman's reproduction and a mother's duties to rear a child with LOVE
Matthew Petyk
Matthew Petyk May 14, 2022 7:24PM ET
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you have no right to murder a child. you are in full control of your body and nobody is telling you what to do. you make the choice to have sex and that resulted in the conception of a HUMAN CHILD. to. bad if you didn't intend on doing it. you did it. take responsibility for your actions. a child should not die because you made a "mistake". only incompetent people would conceve a child and then, cowardly, want to eliminate it. there is no "common sense" in killing your child. it's insanity. Btw, that "ultra-conservative" court, and the justices that Trump put on the court, vote with the left-wing justices often. it's the left that wants to pack the court with radical activist judges.
Marco cuevas
Marco cuevas May 14, 2022 5:05PM ET
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Republicans are for small government to so they tout that until they try to force their agendas on you. I'm against ******but I'll let GOD sort that out....this won't last l9ng...republicans will lose a lot of supporters who are on the fence on who to vote for...a majority of Americans are in favor of abortions.
John Laurens
John Laurens May 14, 2022 3:58PM ET
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Meanwhile conservatives continue to work, build, and grow wealth. I wonder how all this is going to end?
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour May 14, 2022 3:53PM ET
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Just remember this. The Supreme Court has already ruled it is not unconstitutional to hire protesters to go out and protest against whatever you want. There is no law against this. The reason it went to the Supreme Court is because it is a common practice of the rich and corporations to hire hundreds and thousands to do so. They don't have to tell the public. It's cheap for them to do so. Welcome to reality.
Thomas Simpson
Thomas Simpson May 14, 2022 3:31PM ET
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Home Depot has a sale on fire extinguishers. guess I better stock up. Fire department can't be everywhere
DJ Car
DJ Car May 14, 2022 3:26PM ET
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Republicans better pray this isn't overturned....lest these nutjobs will highjack the election.
Ronald Warren
Ronald Warren May 14, 2022 2:37PM ET
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We've evolved from freedom of religion into a godless, climate change worshipping bunch of baby killers.
 
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