Abortion rights protests start across US

WASHINGTON • Abortion rights supporters have started protests in cities across the United States yesterday, kicking off what organisers said would be "a summer of rage" if the US Supreme Court overturns the Roe v Wade case that legalised abortion nationwide.

Planned Parenthood, Women's March and other abortion rights groups organised more than 300 Bans Off Our Bodies marches yesterday, with the largest turnouts expected in New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The demonstrations are in response to the May 2 leak of a draft opinion showing the court's conservative majority ready to reverse the 1973 landmark decision that established a federal constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

"Our bodies are our own - if they are not, we cannot be truly free or equal," says a petition from Bans Off Our Bodies. "Across the country, some politicians are trying to make decisions about our bodies for us," it says.

The court's final ruling, which could give states the power to ban abortion, is expected next month.

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has 53 per cent of voters saying Roe should not be overturned, up three percentage points since two weeks ago , while 58 per cent said it was important to vote for a candidate who supports abortion access.

About half of 50 US states could ban or severely restrict abortion soon after a ruling vacating Roe.

Organisers said they anticipated hundreds of thousands of people to participate in yesterday's events, which they said would be the first of many coordinated protests around the Supreme Court's decision.

"For the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage," said Ms Rachel Carmona, president of Women's March. "We will be ungovernable until this government starts working for us, until the attacks on our bodies let up, until the right to an abortion is codified into law."

Democrats, who currently hold the White House and both chambers of Congress, hope that backlash to the Supreme Court decision will carry their party's candidates to victory in the November mid-term elections.

But voters will be weighing abortion rights against other issues such as the soaring prices of food and gasoline, and they may be sceptical of Democrats' ability to protect abortion access after efforts to pass legislation that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law failed.

Demonstrators in New York City yesterday plan to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, while protesters in Washington will meet at the Washington Monument and then head to the Supreme Court.

Los Angeles protesters planned to meet at City Hall, and a group in Austin was to convene at Texas' state capitol.

In the few days, protesters have gathered outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, who have voted to overturn Roe v Wade, according to the leaked opinion.

Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion advocacy group with campus chapters across the country, said it was holding counter protests yesterday in nine US cities, including in Washington.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline Abortion rights protests start across US. Subscribe