WASHINGTON / AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 2 (Reuters) – Women marched by the thousands on Saturday past the Supreme Court, the Texas Capitol and cities across the United States to protest the state’s growing restrictions on abortion and advocate for the maintenance of a constitutional right to procedure.
The 660 protests in the United States were largely sparked by a Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The measure, which entered into force last month, is the most restrictive in the country.
“No matter where you live, wherever you are, this moment is dark,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the “Rally for Abortion Justice” in Washington.
In the Texas capital of Austin, hundreds of people gathered in stifling heat to denounce the so-called “heartbeat” law signed by Governor Greg Abbott. It prohibits abortion after detection of cardiac activity in the embryo, usually around six weeks. This is before most women know they are pregnant and before 85 to 90% of all abortions are performed, experts say.
The law relies on ordinary citizens to enforce the ban, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, rewarding them at least $ 10,000 if they successfully prosecute anyone who helped provide an abortion. illegal.
Some of the protesters said the law would backfire on lawmakers. “I think more people believe in the issue of providing safe abortions than our legislature realizes,” said Andrea Roberts, 49, a preschool principal in Austin.
“Abort Abbott” appeared on several of the protesters’ placards and T-shirts, while others sported the Texas state slogan, “Come and take it” alongside a drawing of a uterus .
Protesters in Washington marched to the United States Supreme Court two days before the court reconvenes for a session in which judges will consider a Mississippi case that could allow them to overturn rights abortion established in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade from 1973.
If the court overturns the precedent, access to abortion would no longer be constitutionally protected, leaving states free to prohibit, limit or allow it without restrictions.
The judges, in a decision at 5-4 on Sept. 1, have already rejected a request by abortion and women’s health service providers to block the application of Texas law.
“It is cruel and it is certainly not Christian,” Kenya Martin, of the nonprofit Abortion Care Network, told several thousand protesters in Washington.
Under sunny skies, protesters carried signs that read “Forbidden my body”, “Think outside my box” and “Keep your rosaries out of my ovaries.”
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Katy Allen, a 67-year-old university researcher from Rochester, New York. “It is the tyranny of the minority.”
About two dozen counter-protesters also showed up to advocate for anti-abortion laws.
“We want to call on everyone to respect life,” said Albert Stecklein, a 56-year-old corporate director from Rockville, Maryland. “The child in the womb deserves no less respect and dignity than you or me.”
Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, said the number of marches would be the second only after the group’s first protest, which mobilized millions around the world to rally against the former president Donald Trump the day after his inauguration in 2017.
A rally and march in New York City drew thousands of protesters, including actresses Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence.
Abortion rights advocates and the United States Department of Justice have challenged the Texas law in state and federal courts, arguing that it violates Roe v. Wade.
A federal judge in Austin heard the Justice Department’s request on Friday to temporarily block the law while its constitutionality is challenged.
Reporting by Richard Webner in Austin, Timothy Gardner in Washington, Rory Doyle in Jackson, Mississippi and Julia Harte and Jeenah Moon in New York; Writing by Peter Szekely; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman