Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall and marched to the US Supreme Court as the court prepares to issue a ruling that could end decades of constitutional protections for abortion and set off a wave of laws making abortion illegal in about half of the US.
“Bans Off Our Bodies” rallies across the country have brought large crowds of abortion rights advocates to Washington DC and the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas and city centers across the US.
National abortion rights groups have helped organize rallies in nearly 400 cities and towns from Cleveland to Oklahoma City and across southern Nashville to Atlanta and New Orleans and across Florida, drawing large crowds outside of state capitals and downtown. of cities in states about to severely restrict or ban access to abortion.
“This is a time of crisis,” US Representative Barbara Lee told a crowd in Washington DC. “Radical Supreme Court justices and right-wing extremists are making it clear that they will not stop until a nationwide ban is enacted. But we are here to say it loud and clear: keep these prohibitions off our bodies.”
The rallies demanded support for abortion funds, reproductive health groups, abortion providers, and state and federal protections for abortion care after a leaked draft opinion from the conservative-majority Supreme Court to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v Wadeand its affirmative decision in 1992 Planned Parenthood vs Casey.
A formal decision in Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe Mississippi case at the heart of the Supreme Court roe debate, is scheduled for the next few weeks.
Approximately half of US states are ready to ban abortion quickly or immediately, including 13 states with so-called “trigger” bans designed to take effect without comprehensive federal protections for access to abortion.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the dobbs case in December. In the following months, a wave of anti-abortion legislation in Republican-led states, encouraged by the forthcoming ruling, proposed eliminating access to abortion in most cases and criminalizing abortion care, making it a crime for providers to see patients aborted.
In the first few months of the year, lawmakers in nearly 40 states introduced more than 200 bills to restrict access to abortion.
Meanwhile, four states and Washington DC have codified the right to access abortion, while 12 states explicitly allow abortion care, according to the reproductive research organization Guttmacher Institute.
This week, the US Senate failed to pass a federal measure, the Women’s Health Protection Act, that would codify roewith Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joining all 50 Republican senators in voting to block the debate, effectively killing the legislation.
President Joe Biden blamed Senate Republicans for obstructing the legislation, emphasizing the urgency of protecting “fundamental rights” threatened by the Supreme Court, and said Senate inaction “is against the will of the majority of the American people.”
Several recent polls show that the majority of Americans support protections for access to abortion and advocate Roe x Wade decision.
“Republicans in Congress – none of whom voted in favor of this bill – chose to impede the rights of Americans to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives,” the president said in a statement.