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Thousands in US march under ‘Ban Off Our Bodies’ banner for abortion rights

Abortion rights activist rally at the Washington Monument before a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 14, 2022  Photo: AFPNs News Online Desk:

Ns News Online Desk: Thousands of abortion rights supporters rallied across the United States on Saturday, angered by the prospect that the Supreme Court may soon overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide a half century ago.

The protests kicked off what organizers predict will be a “summer of rage” ignited by the May 2 disclosure of a draft opinion showing the court’s conservative majority ready to reverse the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.

The court’s final ruling, which could return the power to ban abortion to state legislatures, is expected in June. About half of the 50 states are poised to ban or severely restrict abortion almost immediately should Roe be struck down.

“If you can’t choose whether you want to have a baby, if that’s not a fundamental right, then I don’t know what is,” said Brita Van Rossum, 62, a landscape designer who traveled from suburban Philadelphia to join the abortion-rights rally in the nation’s capital, her first ever. Protesters marching under the slogan “Bans Off Our Bodies” took to the streets from New York and Atlanta to Chicago and Los Angeles in a show of outrage that Democrats hope will help galvanize support for their party and blunt projected Republican gains in the November elections.

The day’s largest demonstration unfolded in Washington, where a crowd that organizers estimated at 20,000 people massed at the Washington Monument and braved a light drizzle to march along the National Mall past the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court itself.

The rally erupted in shouts of “Shame” and “Bans off our bodies” as the marchers neared the marbled columns of the courthouse.

Surrounded by police was a group of a few dozen counter-demonstrators holding signs that read: “End abortion violence” and “Women’s rights begin in the womb.”

U.S. Representative Sean Casten and his 15-year-old daughter, Audrey, were among several thousand abortion rights supporters who gathered at a park in Chicago.

Casten, whose district includes Chicago’s western suburbs, told Reuters it was “horrible” that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would consider taking away the right to an abortion and “condemn women to this lesser status.”

At an abortion rights protest in Atlanta, more than 400 people had assembled in a small park in front of the state capitol, while about a dozen counter-protesters stood on a nearby sidewalk.

Holding a sign that read, “Stop Child Sacrifice,” 23-year-old Bria Marshall, a recent public health graduate from Kennesaw State University, acknowledged her group’s smaller turnout.

“Jesus had just a small group, but his message was more powerful,” Marshall said. While the Supreme Court leak thrust abortion back to the forefront of U.S. politics, it was unclear how the issue will play out in the coming elections.

Voters will be weighing a host of priorities such as inflation and may be skeptical of Democrats’ ability to protect abortion access after legislation that would enshrine abortion rights in federal law failed.

Many of those marching on Saturday expressed fear that rolling back abortion rights would lead to an erosion of civil liberties generally.

“This is just an affront to everything I believe that we’re supposed to be about,” Los Angeles musician Joel Altshuler, 73, said. “If a woman has no control over what is going to happen to her own body, then we’re back in 1850 not 1950.

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