Thousands of activists, many in pink, took to the streets across the United States, on Saturday, in a national day of action calling for safe and legal access to abortion.
The demonstrations are a response to a leaked draft opinion showing that the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority was considering overturning Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling guaranteeing abortion access nationwide.
“I just think that nobody has the right to make a decision on somebody else’s body,” said Hanna Williamson, 20, from the city of Suffolk, Virginia, who drove three hours to join several thousand protesters in Washington. “I think it should be left up to every individual. I am fighting for everyone else’s rights in this.”
About 3,000 people assembled in a central square in Brooklyn and prepared to carry a giant pink banner that read: “Our Bodies. Our Futures. Our Abortions.” The protesters, who included Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other influential Democrats, were of all genders and ages and many wore green.
“These are a group of people in this country who are working to dismantle 60 years of civil rights and civil liberties of the United States of America,” a women’s rights activist, Linda Sarsour, told newsmen.
“And so we respect everybody’s right to hold whatever religious belief or whatever opinion they have on an issue like abortion, women’s reproductive rights, but what we want you to know is that you can be you and allow people to still have access to safe, affordable, women’s reproductive (care),” Sarsour said.
Thousands also rallied in Texas and Kentucky, and more protests were planned in other major cities as well as at hundreds of smaller events across the country.
“This Saturday, our elected leaders hear us, Supreme Court justices hear us, companies who’ve funded anti-abortion interests hear us,” Sonja Spoo, director of reproductive rights campaigns at the advocacy organisation UltraViolet, said in a statement to newsmen earlier in the day.
“We will be prepared to meet the moment, whether that’s rallying in the streets, petitioning state officials – whatever it takes,” Spoo added.
The leak of the draft opinion had ignited fury over the potential rollback of abortion rights ahead of November’s key midterm elections when control of both congressional chambers is at stake.
Democrats have pushed to codify abortion rights into federal law, a bid to pin down Republicans on the deeply divisive issue ahead of the crucial polls.