MADISON, Wis. –
From coastal cities to snow-covered streets, thousands of abortion advocates rallied on Sunday to demand protections for reproductive rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Roe. v. Wade has now been cancelled.
Roe’s reversal in June unleashed a raft of laws in the states, dividing them between those that restrict or ban abortion and those that seek to protect access. Women’s March, incited during Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in 2017 amid national sexual assault countdown, said it had refocused on state activism after Roe was ousted. to pour.
“This fight is bigger than Roe,” Women’s March said in a tweet. “They thought we were going to stay home and this was going to end with Roe – they were wrong.”
Dozens of Republican-ruled states have implemented sweeping abortion bans, and several others have sought to do the same. But those moves have been offset by gains on the other side.
Opponents of abortion were defeated in ballots on ballot measures in Kansas, Michigan and Kentucky. State courts have blocked some of the bans from taking effect. Countless efforts are underway to help patients travel to states that allow abortions or the use of drugs for self-abortion. And several Democratic-led states have taken steps to protect patients and providers from lawsuits originating in states where the process is prohibited.
Women’s March organizers say their strategy going forward will focus primarily on measures at the state level. But energetic anti-abortion activists are increasingly turning their attention to Congress, with the aim of promoting a nationwide restriction on potential abortion.
Sunday’s main march was held in Wisconsin, where upcoming elections could decide the balance of power of the state Supreme Court and future abortion rights. But protests have taken place in dozens of cities, including Florida’s capital Tallahassee, where Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a fiery speech to boisterous crowds.
“Can we really be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about their own course of life?” Harris said. “And can we really be free if the so-called leaders claim to be… ‘the vanguard of liberty’ when they dare to limit the rights of the American people and attack the very foundation of the country? foundation of freedom?”
In Madison, thousands of abortion rights advocates donned coats and gloves to march in sub-freezing temperatures through downtown to the state Capitol.
“At this point, it’s just a basic human right,” said Alaina Gato, a Wisconsin resident who joined her mother, Meg Wheeler, on the steps of the Capitol in protest.
They said they plan to vote in the Supreme Court elections in April. Wheeler also said she hopes to volunteer as a pollster and campaign for Democrats, despite identifying as an independent.
“This is my daughter. I want to make sure she has the choice whether she wants to have children or not,” Wheeler said.
Buses of protesters flocked to the Wisconsin capital from Chicago and Milwaukee, armed with banners and signs urging the Legislature to lift the state’s ban.
Eliza Bennett, an OBGYN in Wisconsin who said she had to stop providing abortion services to her patients after Roe was ousted, has called on lawmakers to give women back the right to choose. “They should make decisions about what is best for their health, not state legislatures,” she said.
Abortion is not available in Wisconsin due to legal uncertainties facing abortion clinics over whether an 1849 law prohibiting the procedure was in effect. The law, which prohibits abortions except to save lives, is being challenged in court.
Some even carry weapons. Lilith K., who refused to give their last name, stood on the sidewalk with the protesters, wielding an assault rifle and wearing a tactical vest with a holstered pistol.
Lilith said: “With everything going on with women and others being disempowered, and with the recent shootings at Q Clubs and other LGBTQ nightclubs, it’s just a message that we I will not sit idly by.”
The march also attracted protesters. Most signs raise religious objections to abortion rights. “I really don’t want to get involved in politics. I’m more interested in what God’s law says,” said John Goeke, a Wisconsin resident.
In the absence of the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights have become a patchwork between states.
As of June, nearly all abortion bans have been implemented in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Legal challenges are pending for some of those bans. The only clinic in North Dakota that has relocated across the states to Minnesota.
The bans passed by lawmakers in Ohio, Indiana and Wyoming have been blocked by state courts while legal challenges are pending. And in South Carolina, the state’s Supreme Court on January 5 overturned the abortion ban after six weeks, ruling that the restriction violated the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court, which has for decades ruled in favor of Republicans, is likely to hear a lawsuit over the 1849 ban filed by state attorney general Josh Kaul filed in June. Court races are officially nonpartisan, but candidates have for years aligned with conservatives or liberals as the contests have turned into partisan battles costly.
Women’s rallies are expected to be held in most states on Sunday.
The eldest daughter of Norma McCorvey, whose legal challenge under the pseudonym “Jane Roe” led to the Roe v. The landmark Wade, was set to attend the rally in Long Beach, California. Melissa Mills said this was her first Women’s March.
“It’s unbelievable that we’re here, doing the same thing my mother did,” Mills told the Associated Press. “It took us 50 years of hard work.”
Women’s March has become a regular — albeit interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic — since millions rallied in the United States and around the world the day after the inauguration. Donald Trump’s January 2017 inauguration.
Trump has made the appointment of conservative judges a mandate of his presidency. The three conservative justices he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court — Judges Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — all voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Associated Press journalists Chris Megerian and Seung Min Kim in Washington, DC, contributed.
Claire Rush and Harm Venhuizen are members of the Associated Press/Report team for the America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that sends journalists into local newsrooms to cover confidential issues.