WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters converged Saturday in the nation’s capital and across the country to show their support for abortion rights nearly two weeks after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v . Wade.
A crowd of protesters gathered near the Washington Monument before heading to the Supreme Court, some wearing shirts that read “Bans Off Our Bodies” and “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal.” They vowed to fight to preserve the right to abortion, although some accepted that Roe would most likely be overthrown.
Colleen Lunsford, 42, an attorney from Arlington, Va., brought her 5-year-old daughter, Orla. Pointing to her daughter, she says she participated in the march for “her future and her autonomy”.
“I’m terrified,” Ms Lunsford said. “We did our best to elect a Democratic president, a House and a Senate, and it’s still happening.”
More than 450 marches across the country were scheduled to take place on Saturday, said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, a nonprofit that helped organize the event and other protests supporting the womens rights. Organizers had planned a nationwide march for abortion rights before the draft notice leaked, but they sped up the event after the notice was published. Ms O’Leary Carmona said she hoped the events would allow protesters to “build power, both civically and electorally”.
“People are stepping up because they see the time is later than we thought,” she said.
The marches came after the draft opinion was released this month, which showed the Supreme Court appeared set to overturn Roe, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion rights. The court’s decision is not expected before June or early July.
With the midterm elections just months away, President Biden and congressional Democrats hope to use the issue to energize voters. Democratic senators failed on Wednesday to advance legislation guaranteeing abortion rights across the country in the face of opposition from Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.
In Washington, Elizabeth Moser, 34, a communications specialist from Burke, Va., said she hopes the marches will galvanize voters and politicians.
Although she planned to vote mid-term, she said she now plans to drive people to the polls and text friends to encourage them to join other right-wing rallies. to abortion.
“I’m here to try to build a movement,” said Ms Moser, who wore a red bandana and held up a sign that read, “I’m not going quietly back to the 1950s.”
In Brooklyn, thousands of abortion rights supporters gathered at Cadman Plaza Park before marching to Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. Volunteers offered snacks and signs with phrases like “Stand With Black Women.”
For some, protesting the draft notice was not just about protecting the right to abortion.
Lillian Penafiel, 35, and his wife, Emi Penafiel, 44, were worried about what a ruling would mean for marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and voting rights.
“They have been very clear, especially what has been written, that our rights are also going to be threatened, which is why we are nervous,” said Emi Penafiel. “They come after all that.”
Madeleine Ngo reported from Washington, and Lola Fadulu from New York.