WASHINGTON — Protesters gather in the nation’s capital and rallies are planned in hundreds of cities Saturday to protest after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion shows the court could overturn the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe c. Wade.
More than 380 “Bans Off Our Bodies” protests for abortion rights are planned, with the largest expected in 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 proposed Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade from 1973 was disclosed, sparking celebrations from anti-abortion protesters and demonstrations outside the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by a security fence, and the Houses of Justice.
The protests come days after the Senate failed to pass a bill that would have enshrined a national right to abortion.
In Washington, abortion-rights supporters gathered near the Washington Monument on Saturday said they doubted the conservative Supreme Court would change course and vote to back Roe against 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 saddened by it.”
Protesters gathered under cloudy skies and the occasional drizzle. Rain is forecast throughout the afternoon, with temperatures around 70 degrees. As a result, 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, SC, Saturday morning to attend the DC rally.
Fans 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.
While organizers handed out mass-produced signs with generic messages – “Bans Off Our Bodies”, “How Dare They” – many protesters made their own signs with more personal and pungent 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.
Contributor: The Associated Press