WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration’s first women’s march on Saturday went directly to the Supreme Court’s moves, part of nationwide protests that have drawn thousands to Washington demanding continued access to abortion in a year when conservative lawmakers and judges It’s in danger.
Protesters filled the streets around the court, chanting “My body, my choice” and shouting loudly to the beat of the drum.
Before leaving on the march, they rallied in a square near the White House, carrying signs that read “Mind your uterus,” “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, legal. Not arguing.” among other messages. Some wore only T-shirts that read “1973,” a reference to the historic Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal for generations of American women.
Ellen Baijal, a 19-year-old student at American University, said her mother asked her to come to a march for legal abortion with her mother in the 1970s. “It is sad that even after 40 years we have to fight for our rights. But it is a tradition that I want to continue,” Baijal said of the march.
Organizers say the Washington march was one of hundreds of abortion-themed protests held across the country on Saturday. the show took place two days ago start of a new term For the Supreme Court that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, President Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court after the appointment of judges.
“Shame, shame, shame!” The marchers raised slogans as they walked past the Trump International Hotel on their way to the Supreme Court. Some booed and dropped their fists at the Trump landmark.
The day before March, the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block The country’s most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September. It is one of a series of cases that would give the country’s divided High Court an opportunity to maintain or eliminate Roe v. Wade.
The Texas law inspired many protesters and speakers.
“We’ll keep giving it to Texas,” Marsha Jones of the Afia Center for Black Women’s Health Care in Dallas pledged to the Washington crowd. “Now you can’t tell us what to do with our bodies!”
Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood at the national level, said in the weeks since Texas law came into force to terminate pregnancies that forced women to drive several hours across state lines — sometimes several states. lines.
“Times are dark… but so here we are,” Johnson told the crowds in Freedom Square and the surrounding streets. With the upcoming term of the Supreme Court, “No matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep right now.”
In Springfield, Illinois, several hundred people rallied on Old State Capitol Square. Prominent among them were the Illinois Handmaids, who wore red robes and white bonnets, reminiscent of the automaton of Margaret Atwood’s classic story and alluded to “Mind Your Own Uterus” and “Mother by Choice”.
Brigitte Leahy, senior director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said that just two days after the Texas ban went into effect, Planned Parenthood saw the first Texas women traveling to Illinois for the procedure, with more to follow. to be done.
“They are trying to trace the payment of airfare or gas or train ticket, they may need hotel and food. …,” said Leahy. “They have to figure out work hours, and they have to figure out child care. This can be a real struggle. “
Gretchen Snow of Bloomington, Illinois, with a “Not This Again” sign attached to clothes hangers, said, “Women need to be safe and they don’t have to worry about how much money they have to keep safe. “
On the West Coast, thousands marched through downtown Los Angeles to a rally in front of City Hall. The protesters raised the slogan “Abortion on demand and without apology: Only revolution can free women!”
Kayla Selsie said she was carrying the same sign she held at the last three women’s marches. It added, “If only my vagina could fire pills, it would be less regulated.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t finish this sign,” Selsie said. “Women’s rights are being taken away, and this is affecting the women of the lower class immensely.”
“I feel safe as a woman in California, but Texas is clearly going in one direction and it scares me that other states may go the same way,” she said.
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul spoke at rallies in Seneca Falls and then in Albany. “I’m sick and tired of fighting for abortion rights,” she said. “It is the established law in the nation and you are not taking it from us immediately, now or never.”
At an unrelated event in Maine, Republican Sen. Susan Collins called the Texas law “extreme, inhumane, and unconstitutional” and said she was in Roe v. Wade as the “law of the land”.
She said she is working with two Democrats and another Republican, and they are “vetting” the language of their bill. Collins declined to identify his associates, but said legislation would be introduced soon.
An opponent of women’s access to abortion called this year’s March theme “the macabre.”
“What about equal rights for unborn women?” Jean Mancini, president of the anti-abortion group called March for Life, tweeted.
The Women’s March has become a regular event – though interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic – as millions of women turned out in the United States and around the world a day after Trump’s January 2017 inauguration. Trump supported punishing women for having abortions and made the appointment of conservative judges a mission of his presidency.
With the sun setting in Washington on Saturday, Ramsay Taviotdale of Arlington, Virginia — who, when asked about her age, said she was “old enough to remember when abortion was not legal” — hand-woven pink wool Was one of the few to wear it. The caps that set the 2017 Women’s March apart.
Without Trump as a central figure to rally against women of different political beliefs, and with the pandemic still going strong, organizers spoke of hundreds of thousands of participants on Saturday, not the millions of 2017.
Taviotdale said this does not diminish the urgency of the moment. “This Texas thing – it can’t stand any way. It’s a thin edge of the nail,” she said.
Security in the capital was much lighter than at a political rally a few weeks earlier in support of jailed Trump supporters in the January 6 uprising. No fence was erected around the US Capitol, with the Capitol police chief saying there was nothing to suggest Saturday’s rally was violent.
John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois; David Sharp in Bath, Maine; and Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed.