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Human RightsUnited States of America

Tens of thousands march for US abortion rights

October 3, 2021

Women across the US have taken part in protests to demand continued access to abortion. They fear the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is under threat, especially after Texas passed the most restrictive abortion law yet.

a young woman holds a sign that reads Abortion is healthcare, healthcare is a human right
Many women took homemade signs to the marches in support of their right to choose an abortionImage: Caitlin Ochs/REUTERS

Tens of thousands of women took to the streets across the United States on Saturday in support of abortion rights.

A day earlier, the administration under President Joe Biden urged a federal judge to block the nation's most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September.

The Women's March took place two days before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court. Among the cases set to go before the conservative-majority court is one that could challenge the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that protects a person's right to abortion.

In New York, a protester wears a purple ruff and blonde beehive wig on the march while grasping a sign
Supporters of reproductive choice took part in the nationwide Women's MarchImage: Jeenah Moon/REUTERS

What happened at the marches?

In the US capital, Washington D.C., around 10,000 marchers rallied in a square near the White House before heading to the Supreme Court.

Many waved signs with pro-choice messages, such as: "Mind your own uterus," "I love someone who had an abortion" and "Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate."

A number of marchers dressed like late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a women's rights crusader, who died last year.

A woman is dressed as late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Some protesters dressed up as late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgImage: Tom Brenner/REUTERS

At the Supreme Court, the marchers were met by counterprotests. A chain of riot police kept the two groups apart.

In New York, activists gathered in Manhattan's Foley Square holding signs that read "We are not ovary-acting" and "I have a vagenda."

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."

In Springfield, Illinois, several hundred people rallied on the Old State Capitol square. A number of the marchers wore red robes and white bonnets, inspired by the subjugated women in the TV series based on Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale.

A group of young supporters hold U.S. flags with the words: abortion freedom fighters
Over 600 marches took place across the country on SaturdayImage: Rory Doyle/REUTERS

On the West Coast, thousands marched through downtown Los Angeles to a rally in front of City Hall. Protesters chanted "Abortion on demand and without apology: Only revolution can make women free!"

In total, 660 demonstrations in support of abortion rights took place across the country.

What's happening to abortion rights in the US?

On Friday, a law went into effect in Texas prohibiting women from getting an abortion after roughly six weeks — a time when many women do not still know they are pregnant.

The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually at around six weeks.

After that time, women can try to either go outside Texas to have an abortion, get an illegal abortion in Texas or continue with an unwanted pregnancy.

The law relies on ordinary citizens to enforce the ban. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

Texas abortion ban facing challenges

The Supreme Court has already said it will not block the Texas law. The top court also agreed to review a restrictive Mississippi law that could provide an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The majority of Supreme Court justices are conservative, following appointments made during Donald Trump's presidency. That makes outcomes against abortion rights more likely.

So far this year, 19 states have adopted 63 laws restricting access to abortions.

kmm/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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