UNITED STATES: Tens of thousands of people have marched at rallies across all 50 U.S. states to protest increasing restrictions on abortion rights.
The 600 demonstrations around the U.S. on Saturday were provoked by a new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
In Washington DC, demonstrators marched to the Supreme Court building, holding signs such as “Make abortion legal,” and “My body, my choice,” while cheering loudly to the beat of drum.
Some other signs said: “Mind your own uterus”, “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate.”
“While I’ve never been faced with that choice fortunately, there are many women who have and our government and men have no say in the outcome when it comes to our bodies,” Robin Horn told Reuters news agency.
The rallies were organised by those behind the annual Women’s March – the first of which drew millions of people to protest a day after the inauguration of former President Donald Trump in 2017.
“This is kind of a break-glass moment for folks all across the country,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, the executive director of Women’s March.
“Many of us grew up with the idea that abortion would be legal and accessible for all of us,” she added. “Seeing that at very real risk has been a moment of awakening.”
The start of the rally however, saw some two dozen counter-demonstrators disrupting with — “The blood of innocent babies is on your hands!” shouted one man, the Washington Post newspaper reported.
Abortion – Women’s choice or the Nation’s?
On December 1 the court is set to hear a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion. The Supreme Court verdit on the case could overturn Roe v Wade – the 1973 decision that legalised abortion nationwide. Pro-choice supporters across the country fear that constitutional rights may be rolled back.
If the court overturns the precedent, abortion access would no longer be protected by the Constitution, giving states the free will to ban it, limit it or allow it without restrictions.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision on September 1, have already denied a request from abortion and women’s health providers to block enforcement of the Texas law.
The Texas law or the so-called Heartbeat Act bans terminations after the detection of what anti-abortion campaigners call a foetal heartbeat – a point when many women do not know they are pregnant. The act also gives any individual the right to sue doctors who perform an abortion past the six-week point. Supporters say its aim is to protect the unborn. Politicians in several other Republican-dominated states are considering similar restrictions.
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul spoke at rallies in Seneca Falls and then Albany. “I’m sick and tired of having to fight over abortion rights,” she said. “It’s settled law in the nation and you are not taking that right away from us – not now, not ever.”