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Thousands gather for abortion rights protests across the United States

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Abortion rights supporters took to the streets across America on Saturday to express their anger over a leaked Supreme Court majority draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Cries of “My body, my choice” rang out as activists pledged to fight for what they called reproductive freedom.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by two layers of security barriers. Members of Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, were to be present “to call for increased access to abortion and the rejection of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black t-shirt with a picture of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissident” necklace on it, and a necklace that spelled “vote”.

Protesters gather in Cadman Plaza during an abortion rights protest, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Jeenah Moon/AP

“I think women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it dangerous and can cost lives. to a woman,” Loehr said.

From Pittsburgh to Pasadena, Calif., and from Nashville, TN to Lubbock, TX, tens of thousands of people participated in “Bans off our Bodies” events. Organizers expected that of the hundreds of events, the biggest would be in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other major cities. Sponsors included Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said before the event began.

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 that rally, speakers told the crowd that if abortion were banned, the rights of immigrants, minorities and others would also be “gutted,” as Amy Eshleman, wife of the Chicago mayor, put it. , Lori Lightfoot.

“It was never just about abortion. It’s about control,” Eshleman told the crowd of thousands. “My wedding is on the menu and we cannot and will not let that happen,” she added.

Protesters hold signs during an abortion rights protest, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York City. Jeenah Moon/AP

Even though the leaked draft opinion does not represent the final position of any member of the tribunal, it raised fears that the tribunal could rule as early as next month, when it rules on a controversial abortion law in the Mississippi.

On Wednesday, a bill to codify Roe into law failed to pass the Senate. Even with Vice President Kamala Harris in the chair, Senate Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass federal abortion rights protections.

“This Senate has not stood up for a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,” the vice president said after the vote.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin voted to block the bill, saying it went too far.

“It’s not the Roe v. Wade codification, it’s an expansion,” he said.

On Friday, House Democrats gathered on the steps of the US Capitol to voice their support for abortion rights.

“Hands off women’s reproductive health care,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“They won’t stop until a national abortion ban is enacted,” added Rep. Barbara Lee.

An abortion rights protester places portraits of some of the United States Supreme Court justices during a protest outside the United States Supreme Court, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Washington. Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

On “CBS Mornings” Friday, Senate Minority Whip John Thune said the issue should be decided by individual states.

“This is a decision made by nine unelected judges and it will now come down to the people and their elected representatives,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats will continue to focus on this issue leading up to the midterm elections in November.

“Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested, if you want there to be no exceptions for rape and incest,” Schumer said.

Kimmons, 46, said she thought the focus should be on those races. “We must vote for pro-choice politicians because women’s lives depend on it,” she said.

Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse, agreed on the need to vote.

Senator Thune on what potential changes to abortion could mean 06:18

“As much as the federal election, voting in every little election matters just as much,” said Nyquist, who wheeled her one-year-old daughter in a stroller and held her 3-year-old’s hand as she walked to the rally. from Chicago.

In Texas, where a strict law prohibits many abortions, the challenger of one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress marched in San Antonio.

Jessica Cisneros joined the protesters just days before early voting began in her first runoff against US Representative Henry Cuellar. The race could be one of the first tests of whether the court flight will galvanize voters.

Polls show most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the early stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appears poised to let states have the final say. If that happens, about half of the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, should quickly ban abortion.

Meanwhile, Judge Clarence Thomas, who has come under fire for his wife’s political activism, said on Friday the leak had fundamentally changed the institution.

“You start looking over your shoulder,” he said. “It’s like a kind of infidelity that you can explain, but you can’t undo it.”

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