Rallies spread across the US to protect women’s abortion access

Rallies spread across the US to protect women’s abortion access
On Saturday, abortion rights demonstrations were held in cities across the United States in response to a leaked Supreme Court draft two weeks ago indicating that federal protection for abortion rights would be overturned.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
15 May, 2022
Abortion rights demonstrators gathered in cities across the United States on Saturday to demand protection of Roe v. Wade. [Brooke Anderson/The New Arab]

On a drizzly Saturday in Washington, DC, thousands marched to the Supreme Court to demand continued federal protections for abortion rights.

The march, which took place in cities and towns across the US, started mid-day at the Washington Monument and continued up the hill, reaching the Supreme Court mid-afternoon. By late afternoon, the entire downtown area was filled with protesters, many of them with coordinated signs and t-shirts.

Some groups of anti-abortion activists also attended, but they were far outnumbered by the pro-choice demonstrators.

The turnout was much larger and more diverse than the more spontaneous ones that took place at the beginning of the month immediately following the leaked Supreme Court document written by Samuel Alito indicating that Roe v. Wade, the law protecting women's access to abortion in the US, would be reversed. This would likely lead to a lack of access to abortion in at least half of the 50 states, where it is already severely limited.

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Thousands of men and women of all ages and backgrounds – from new mothers pushing strollers to seniors who can remember when abortions were not federally protected nearly 50 years ago – showed up at the Supreme Court and surrounding area, where they held up signs and chanted, and listened to speeches and musical performances.

Though the atmosphere was generally festive, there was still a serious undertone, with the demonstrators mindful of what was at stake – the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade in the next several months.

"What we're hoping for is all of us standing up and saying we're the majority. More people in this country are in favour of abortion rights than against them. If we come together as a majority, then maybe they’ll have to listen to us," Julia Ehrmantraut, an accounting student from northern Virginia, told The New Arab.

According to a 2021 Gallop poll report, around 58 per cent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. This number tends to fluctuate depending on the year and the poll, generally ranging between 52 to 70 per cent, but the position of wanting to keep the law remains consistent.

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For Lisa Lipsey, a healthcare worker of 32 years, access to abortion is part of healthcare.

"I'm here to support women and women’s choices," she told TNA. "I believe healthcare is a human right, and there's a separation between church and state. You cannot govern someone's morality, even if you feel it's a moral choice. It's not your choice. It's the individual's choice, the woman's choice, who is ultimately a patient who is entitled to healthcare."

For many at Saturday's demonstration, there is a concern that reversing Roe v. Wade could reverse other civil rights legislation, such as interracial marriage and LGBTQ+ rights, and also affect the right to privacy.

"There are repercussions of what’s going on today – Virginia v. Loving, interracial, LGBTQ, all of it," Stephanie Folmer, a retiree, told TNA. "If we no longer have the right to privacy, that's saying that the government has the right to tell us what to think, what to feel, and how to go forward. I’m appalled by it. This is the United States."