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Crowds gathered in Washington D.C. and in at least 380 different locations across the U.S. to demand abortion rights and more. Photo: Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Crowds gathered in Washington D.C. and in at least 380 different locations across the U.S. to demand abortion rights and more. Photo: Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bans Off Our Bodies goes nationwide against pending Roe v. Wade Supreme Court overturn

Rallies were held across the country on Saturday, May 14, to denounce the pending decision and demand more rights for women.

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As the Supreme Court gears up to make a final decision regarding the future of constitutional rights to abortion, citizens across the country participated in marches and rallies for reproductive freedom.

On Saturday, May 14, tens of thousands of people attended more than 380 ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ events took place in multiple cities, from Maine to Hawaii. The largest gatherings took place in big cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

In the nation’s capital, the Bans Off Our Bodies event, organized in partnership with the Women’s March, drew about 17,000 people to the D.C.’s National Mall. 

Other sponsors of the events include Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Rights Action League. 

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said to the crowd before marching towards the Supreme Court.

According to a recent CBS poll, the majority of U.S. adults, about 58% of them, said they are in favor of Congress passing a federal law that would make abortion legal nationwide. Yet the high court appears ready to let the states have the final say on abortion access. 

If this does occur, approximately half of states, mainly Southern and Midwestern, are expected to ban abortion. 

Saturday’s demonstrations were held three days after the U.S. Senate failed to secure enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade

The landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy was won through massive pressure from citizens, and abortion rights activists are hoping that similar resistance can continue to protect this right as the Supreme Court considers its destiny.

In Philadelphia, hundreds of people gathered at City Hall to protest the potential overturning of this monumental ruling and all its implications. Pro-choice advocates also attended rallies across surrounding towns, including King of Prussia, West Chester, Doylestown, and Wilmington, Delaware.

Participants called for the Supreme Court to uphold abortion rights, for Medicare For All that includes reproductive health benefits, and for legislation to protect abortion at the federal level. 

Saturday’s events followed a Philadelphia protest that advocates held on May 3, the day after Justice Samuel Alito’s majority draft opinion was leaked by POLITICO.

Temple University Hospital nurse Marty Harrison told the Philadelphia Inquirer that more national mobilization is required. 

“Because Justice Alito’s draft decision is not yet final, this is a critical moment and not the time to take our foot off the gas,” Harrison said. 

Speakers encouraged the crowd to continue taking action, through donating to abortion access funds, speaking out in favor of reproductive rights, actively pushing back against any legislation that would slash funding for abortion, and recruiting more people to the cause.

Starting at 10 a.m on Saturday, hundreds of Philadelphia residents gathered outside City Hall, spanning the sidewalk and all the lanes of John F. Kennedy Boulevard at its intersection with Broad Street. 

High school senior Maya Amor, who organized a student walkout on Friday, May 13, addressed the crowd, saying that her 18th birthday has been overshadowed by this attack on reproductive freedom. 

“When I turned 18, I thought I would have the world at my fingertips, being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But shortly after, I got the rug ripped from underneath me. I found out that as a woman, I didn’t have the rights to my own organs,” Amor said.

Members of the crowd represented all ages, some who have just recently entered the world, and many who lived for decades before Roe v. Wade

Missy Gibson, a middle-aged teacher from Lansdowne, expressed her frustration that protests such as these are still needed. 

“We are losing women’s rights, health-care rights, just the rights and agency over our own bodies again. It doesn’t matter that it’s raining, if it was snowing. We have to fight. Sadly,” Gibson told the Inquirer.

Currently, Pennsylvania bans abortions after 24 weeks, which is near the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. If the Supreme Court does strike down Roe, state legislators could send a more or less restrictive law to the governor. 

The draft opinion leak has pushed abortion rights to the front in the race to replace Gov. Tom Wolf, who is in his final term in office.

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