The abortion rights battle takes to the streets across America Saturday, with hundreds of demonstrations planned as part of a new “Women’s March” aimed at countering an unprecedented conservative offensive to restrict the termination of pregnancies.
The fight has become even more intense since Texas adopted a law on September 1 banning almost all abortions, unleashing a veritable legal guerrilla warfare and a counterattack in Congress, but with few public demonstrations until now.
Two days before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have the final say on the contentious issue, is due to reconvene, nearly 200 organizations have called on abortion rights defenders to make their voices heard from coast to coast.
The flagship event will be held in the nation’s capital Washington, where thousands are expected to march to the Supreme Court, which nearly 50 years ago recognized the right of women to have an abortion in its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
Now the court, stacked by former President Donald Trump with conservative justices, seems ready to head in the opposite direction.
It has already refused to block the Texas law and has accepted reviewing a restrictive Mississippi law that could provide an opportunity to overturn its precedent.
Rallies are planned in these two conservative states’ capitals, Austin and Jackson, as well as in more than 600 cities in all 50 states. According to the organizers, nearly a quarter million people are expected to turn out across the United States.
“Together, we are joining hands to advocate for a country where abortion isn’t just legal — it’s accessible, affordable and destigmatized,” said the organizers of the Rally for Abortion Justice in a statement.
The group called on Congress to enshrine the right to abortion in federal law, to protect it from any possible reversal by the Supreme Court.
A bill to that effect was adopted a week ago in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, but has no chance of passing the Senate where Republicans have enough votes to block it.
In 2017, a first “Women’s March” was held the day after Trump’s inauguration, rallying millions of opponents of the Republican billionaire who had been accused of sexism.
Since then, other demonstrations have failed to turn out such huge numbers, in part due to internal divisions over accusations of anti-Semitism leveled at one of the organizers.
But that page seems to have been turned.
“This year, we are united with a coalition of nearly 200 organizations,” the organizers said. Participants will include small feminist groups, community and local organizations as well as the giant of family planning, Planned Parenthood.
“We’re taking to the streets once again, for the first time in the (Joe) Biden era,” the statement said. “Because a change in the Oval Office hasn’t stopped the politicized, perverse, and patriarchal desire to regulate our bodies. If anything, it’s only gotten even more intense.”
That escalation has been spurred on by Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, emboldening local conservative elected officials across to the country to embark on an anti-abortion offensive.
So far this year, 19 states have adopted 63 laws restricting access to abortions.
If the high court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, every state would be free to ban or allow abortions.
That would mean 36 million women in 26 states — nearly half of American women of reproductive age — would likely lose the legal right to an abortion, according to a Planned Parenthood report released Friday.