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Thousands of people took part in protests across the United States on Saturday to protest the Supreme Court’s expected overturning of the landmark 1973 law that made abortion legal in America.

Organizers said there have been more than 380 protest events in cities, including major ones in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, demanding that abortion rights not be removed by the court, which is dominated by right-wing judges.

Gathering in large groups and holding signs including slogans such as “Reproductive justice for all” and “We won’t go back”, and chanting “My body, my choice”, protesters were spurred on by the leak of a draft Supreme Court notice on May 2. The leaked draft showed the five right-wing justices of the nine-member court voted to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark case that provided federal protection for abortion rights and proved a beacon in the international efforts to improve women’s rights.

In the US capital, protesters gathered at the Washington Monument before marching towards the Supreme Court, which is surrounded by a security barrier. Some held pictures of coat hangers to symbolize the dangerous measures some people resorted to for illegal abortions before the Roe v Wade decision. “If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, one of the groups, along with Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet and MoveOn who staged Saturday’s protests, which they called ‘Ban Our Bodies’.

“We have to see an end to the attacks on our bodies,” Carmona added. “You can expect women to be completely ungovernable until this government starts working for us.”

‘We won’t go back’: Thousands rally for abortion rights across the United States |  American News
An abortion rights protester at the rally in Washington DC. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

If the court were to end abortion protections following the Mississippi challenge, at least 26 US states, mostly in the South and Midwest, would be certain or likely to ban abortions, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic, self-manage medical abortions and increase the risk of lawsuits, abuse and violence for women and doctors.

Even though a clear majority of Americans support women’s right to have an abortion in principle, the topic has long been politically toxic, with Republicans constantly pushing for protections to be weakened or removed entirely.

Oklahoma and Texas, two Republican-led states, have banned abortions after six weeks, while Louisiana lawmakers recently pondered a bill that would charge women with murder if they end their abortion. pregnancy.

Protest organizers stressed that abortion remains legal until the Supreme Court’s final ruling. “Planned Parenthood Health Centers remain open, abortion is currently still legal, and we will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe and legal abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Chief Executive Officer. of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

But participants in the protests have expressed concern at the prospect of losing a right that women have relied on for 50 years. “How can they take away what I consider a human right? said Julie Kinsella, a teacher who participated in the New York protest. Kinsella said she felt “anger” and “outrage” when she heard news of the draft notice.

“It just got me thinking: Where is the United States heading with this decision?” she says. “We have made so much progress so far. I would just hate to see us back down and fight for what we already have right now.

‘We won’t go back’: Thousands rally for abortion rights across the United States |  American News
Thousands demonstrate for abortion rights on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Other women shared their own abortion experiences. Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are prepared to ban abortion. She said she might not be alive today if she hadn’t had a legal abortion when she was 15.

“I was already starting to self-harm and I would have rather died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.

At the rally in Los Angeles, Gloria Allred, the women’s rights lawyer, recounted how she had an illegal abortion in California in the 1960s, before Roe v. Wade.

“I was left in a bathtub in a pool of my own blood,” Allred said. “A nurse said to me, ‘I hope this teaches you a lesson.’ She taught me a lesson, but not the one she wanted. Abortion must be safe, it must be legal, it must be affordable, it must be available.

Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee also told the Los Angeles crowd about her own abortion before Roe, which happened when she was a teenager. “We are here today to tell these radical extremists that if you criminalize people for having abortions, if you make abortion illegal, if you take away our right to make our personal decisions about our bodies, we will see you in ballot boxes in November,” Lee said.

Elijah Lopez, 15, stood side by side with his mother, Lidia, at the rally carrying a sign that read, “My mom is pissed.” Lidia’s sign read, “Yeah, I’m pissed.”

“Today is an important day in history,” she said, referring to the rallies taking place across the United States. “I was telling my son that while California is likely to uphold reproductive rights, in many other states it won’t.”

“We can show them that people don’t want this,” Elijah said.

They came from the Inland Empire to stand up for reproductive rights together, part of a shared tradition of activism that began years ago when they began demonstrating against the separation of families under the administration. Trump, which Lidia said was her son’s introduction to the peaceful protest.

“It’s easy to do nothing. We need to take as many opportunities as possible to introduce ourselves. I want him there,” she said.

‘We won’t go back’: Thousands rally for abortion rights across the United States |  American News
People hold a sign supporting abortion rights during a rally outside Los Angeles City Hall. Photography: Caroline Brehman/EPA

Saturday’s rally brought out many people who had never seen such protests before, but were called to action, seeing reproductive rights at risk. Reginald Wheeler, a lifelong Los Angeles resident, said the downtown event marked his first protest.

“I support women,” he said. “I hope this is a reality check for these judges.” He added that he is worried about what will happen when people do not have access to abortion. “We’re going to have a lot of unwanted kids, homeless kids.”

Luna Hernandez with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, a rally organizer, said the event would bring people to the streets to stop the Supreme Court from taking away reproductive rights.

“Only people can stop this,” Hernandez said. “We must refuse to allow this. It must be a turning point, it is not done.

“When abortion is illegal, women die. Forced motherhood is the slavery of women,” she said.

The prospect of impending abortion bans in dozens of US states has caused international and national concern. On Saturday, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, told the Guardian that the United States should not abandon federal protections for abortion.

“It sends shivers down my spine to think that the court is being brought into play – as a very powerful actor – to decide a human rights issue that has case law and is based on legal findings. , which will actually lead to restriction of rights,” Mofokeng said.

Clarence Thomas’ main concern, however, seems to be the leak itself. Thomas, a conservative Supreme Justice, said the publication of the draft notice to Politico was “extremely bad”.

The judge, whose wife Virginia has repeatedly urged Donald Trump’s chief of staff to take action to overturn the 2020 election won by Joe Biden, told a conference in Dallas: ‘I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them. And then I wonder when they’ll be gone or destabilized, what we’re going to have as a country.”

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