WASHINGTON – Protesters are gathering in support of reproductive rights Saturday at hundreds of Women’s March protests planned across all 50 states and Washington, DC. The marches come a month since a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy took effect.
In Washington, D.C.’s Rally for Abortion Justice, a crowd of protesters gathered Saturday morning around a banner proclaiming “Bans off our bodies!” as Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” blasted from speakers.
A baby in a stroller nibbled at a sign saying “I can’t believe I’m a baby and I have to protest already,” and volunteers passed out masks donning “I march for abortion access” on them.
Teresa Hamlin from Chesapeake, Virginia said she finds it “unbelievable that we have to be back out here.”
“I did this in the ’70s and ’60s and now we’re back out again,” Hamlin said. “It breaks my heart, but they’ve kicked the hornet’s nest, and we’re not going back”
In addition to the Texas law, the possibility of other states passing similar legislation and a Mississippi challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision have created an “unprecedented attack” on reproductive freedoms, said Women’s March executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona.
“For a long time, groups of us were ringing the alarm bell around abortion access and many of us were told we were hysterical and Roe v. Wade will never be overturned,” Carmona said. “But now it’s clear that our fears were both rational and proportional. We are at a break-glass moment for America, and now’s the time for mass mobilization and federal action.”
The Supreme Court in September declined to block Texas’ abortion law – a move the Women’s March said “effectively took the next step towards overturning Roe v. Wade,” according to its website. The marches were planned ahead of the Supreme Court reconvening Oct. 4.
“Simply put: We are witnessing the most dire threat to abortion access in our lifetime.”
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The marches have drawn opposition for years from conservatives who say the Women’s March doesn’t represent the views of all women. Among the critics of this year’s march was Jeanne Mancini, president of an anti-abortion group called March for Life.
Carmona called the marches a “coalition effort” with the Women’s March partnering with more than 90 other organizations, including Planned Parenthood, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice and the Working Families Party.
The inaugural Women’s March in 2017 started to protest against the election of then-President Donald Trump. Last fall, a march protested now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
“This is a moment to consolidate our movements and to demonstrate to policymakers and to the Supreme Court that we will not go quietly, that this is going to be a fight,” Carmona said.