On 50th anniversary of Roe, women’s marches draw thousands across the U.S.
From beach cities to snow-covered streets, abortion supporters rallied by the thousands on Sunday to demand protections for reproductive rights and mark the 50th anniversary of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that established federal protections for the procedure.
The reversal of Roe in June unleashed a flurry of legislation in the states, dividing them between those that have restricted or banned abortion and those that have sought to defend access. The Women’s March, galvanized during Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017 amid a national reckoning over sexual assaults, said it has refocused on state activism after Roe was tossed.
“This fight is bigger than Roe,” Women’s March said in a tweet. “They thought that we would stay home and that this would end with Roe — they were wrong.”
A dozen Republican-governed states have implemented sweeping bans on abortion, and several others seek to do the same. But those moves have been offset by gains on the other side.
Abortion opponents were defeated in votes on ballot measures in Kansas, Michigan and Kentucky. State courts have blocked several bans from taking effect. Myriad efforts are underway to help patients travel to states that allow abortions or use medication for self-managed abortions. And some Democratic-led states have taken steps to shield patients and providers from lawsuits originating in states where the procedure is banned.
Organizers with the Women’s March said their strategy moving forward will focus largely on measures at the state level. But freshly energized anti-abortion activists are increasingly turning their attention to Congress, with the aim of pushing for a potential national abortion restriction down the line.
Sunday’s main march was held in Wisconsin, where upcoming elections could determine the state Supreme Court’s power balance and future abortion rights. But rallies took place in dozens of cities, including Florida’s state capital of Tallahassee, where Vice President Kamala Harris gave a fiery speech before a boisterous crowd.
“Can we truly be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about the course of their own lives?” Harris said. “And can we truly be free if so-called leaders claim to be … ‘on the vanguard of freedom’ while they dare to restrict the rights of the American people and attack the very foundations of freedom?”