WASHINGTON- Anguish and anger erupted across the country on Tuesday as abortion rights advocates began flooding the streets, from Supreme Court marches in New York, Nevada, Texas and California, to protesting the land’s highest court’s potential decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
While abortion rights groups have warned of the impending decision that would allow states to ban abortions without exception, the leak Monday night of a draft opinion backed by a majority of judges has galvanized fear and frustration, and protesters raised their voices.
In addition to the nationwide scattered protests, organizers of the Women’s March, a global protest held the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, called on abortion rights supporters to rally outside federal courthouses and other government buildings.
As a small group of anti-abortion activists materialized outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, they outnumbered abortion-rights protesters like George Washington University freshmen, Ellie Small, 19, and Emma Hearns, 18, who took a break from their studies for the finals. Protesters carried signs that included “Ban our bodies” and “Protect women’s rights.” Others held up coat hangers, used as symbols of illegal and unsafe abortions.
“We’re here because it’s a really scary time for a young woman,” Small said.
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Elsewhere in the United States, demonstrations were organized.
A call to gather in Foley Square, across from the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse in Manhattan, has been circulating on social media among New York groups. Former New York Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also shared the details of the Foley Square protest on Twitter.
Social media posts circulating said protests were planned near the Texas State Capitol in Austin, the US Courthouse in Los Angeles and the US Courthouse in Chicago.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that a majority of Americans support the Supreme Court upholding Roe v. Wade. The poll, taken last week, found that 54% of Americans support keeping Roe, while 28% support scrapping it. The poll revealed that 18% had no opinion.
About 49% of the nation said abortion should be “legal and accessible” in the USA TODAY/Ipsos poll released this month. Only about a third of Republicans agree, compared to 73% of Democrats.
The Roe decision in 1973 found that laws criminalizing abortions violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed the rights affirmed in the Roe decision and changed the standards of abortion laws.
Abortion rights and anti-abortion protesters rally outside the Supreme Court
In Washington, Jen Miller, 37, stood in silence as she gave the nation’s highest court the middle finger. “It just makes me feel better,” she said.
Calling the leaked Supreme Court document a “poor opinion,” Miller said she hoped the news would encourage Democrats to fight back — first by “bombing” the filibuster and passing legislation to protect the abortion. “I want the Democrats to do their fucking job,” Miller added.
Small, one of George Washington’s students, said she felt it was also important for people to protest in their home countries. Hearns said her motivation was to raise awareness that removing federal abortion protections could disenfranchise others as well.
“It’s really scary to me that (anti-abortion activists) don’t understand that taking away abortion takes away so many rights and so many things from women and other people who have wombs,” Hearns said.
Michelle Xai traveled from New York via Los Angeles with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, joining the protest outside the Supreme Court, where police erected barricades to prevent people from approaching the building itself.
“We can’t just sit down. Now is the time to take to the streets,” Xai said.
Songs such as “This Is America” played as crowds and a growing number of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies thronged, waiting for a march until Tuesday evening.
Earlier in the day, anti-abortion activist Kristin Monahan, 30, protested outside the building. Describing herself as a feminist, leftist and atheist, she was part of the small but vocal crowd supporting the abortion ban.
“I already feel like this makes more sense for people who support pro-peace values - anti-war, vegan, anti-death penalty – it makes more sense for people like that to be against the abortion, because abortion is violence, and it is the slaughter of young human beings,” Monahan said.
Others agreed, calling on states to have the right to make such decisions.
“Abortion is an oppression,” Maggie Donica, 21, said through a megaphone. Although she describes herself as anti-abortion, Donica said her main reason for protesting was to give states back the right to decide on abortion.
To overthrow Roe “is a statement of neutrality,” she said. “It gives the states back the right to make their decisions.”
But abortion rights protesters quickly outnumbered people like Monahan as the day progressed.
Joining the protest in support of abortion rights in the late afternoon, Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke from behind a lectern emblazoned with the inscription “Protect Abortion, Expand the court,” a reference to the push by some abortion rights groups for President Joe Biden. to appoint several more liberal Supreme Court justices, an unlikely move that would need to be approved by Congress.
Contributor: Chelsey Cox, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
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