MADISON, Wis. –
Women’s marches for abortion rights will draw thousands across the country on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of Supreme Court Roe v.
Organizers focused on the states after the Supreme Court overturned a Roe ruling in June that instituted abortion restrictions and near-total bans in more than a dozen states.
The Women’s March website says: “We’re going where the fighting is going, and that’s at the state level.” The group has named this year’s protests “Greater Than Roe.”
The main march is being held in Wisconsin, where the state’s upcoming Supreme Court elections could decide the balance of court power and abortion rights. But protests are taking place in dozens of cities, including Florida’s state capital Tallahassee, where Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a fiery speech to a boisterous crowd.
“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 Sunday afternoon 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.
Madison Abortion and Reproductive Rights Coalition for Healthcare organized the rally with the support of more than 30 other abortion rights groups, including advocates from neighboring Illinois. Protesters’ cars poured into the state capital from Chicago and Milwaukee, armed with banners and signs calling on the Legislature to lift the state’s ban.
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.
Newly galvanized anti-abortion activists are increasingly targeting Congress with the aim of promoting a nationwide restriction on potential abortion. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC, on Friday for the annual March for Life — the first march held since Roe was ousted.
In the absence of the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights have become a patchwork between states. In some states, officials have grappled with abortion laws dating back to the 1800s.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, with the backing of Democratic Governor Tony Evers, filed an objection to the 1849 ban in June in Dane County, where Madison is located, arguing that it was too old. to execute. Both parties have traded briefs since then and it’s unclear when a ruling could be reached, but the case looks set to go to the state Supreme Court.
Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court, which has for decades ruled in favor of Republicans, is likely to hear the case. Court races are officially nonpartisan, but candidates have for years aligned themselves with conservatives or liberals as the contests have turned into costly partisan battles.
Evers, who has made abortion a focus of his re-election campaign for governor of the state, has repeatedly called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to give voters the power to decide on abortion. Republican leaders have expressed a willingness to make exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but Evers has remained adamant that he will not sign into law anything that lacks protections. existed under Roe.
Women’s rallies are expected to be held in most states on Sunday.
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.
15:15ET January 22-23