WASHINGTON – Thousands of people marched to the Supreme Court and the Capitol on Saturday to demand that the justices and Congress ensure abortion rights and access, one of many Women’s March rallies around the country that attracted several hundred thousand people who protested laws enacted by Texas and many other states restricting the right to an abortion.
“We can and will show the Supreme Court and anyone else threatening our freedom that there are more people standing with us on the side of justice than with them,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Women’s March Executive Director, in her opening speech at Freedom Plaza near the White House.
According to Carmona, 120,000 people in 650 locations around the country marched at the rallies; Women’s March tweeted that the D.C. rally attracted about 5,000 people.
“Austin is popping. Houston is popping. New York is popping. Chicago is popping. LA is popping. 650 marches all across the country,” said Carmona.
Before the march began, Carmona reminded the crowd to wear masks and social distance.
The outcry for abortion justice was ignited by the record number of abortion bans enacted this year and the the Supreme Court’s refusal to block the Texas law that restricts abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy while a lawsuit claiming the law is illegal works its way through the courts.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of July 1, 90 abortion restrictions have been enacted this year, more than in any year since the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court.
“I am here because of the rights. This is just the beginning. This is not about our babies’ lives. This is about our social strength,” said Daniela Flores, who grew up in Costa Rica and now lives in Washington.
Flores said she had an abortion when she was five months pregnant because she was told her fetus was not viable and continuing the pregnancy could result in her death.
Several dozen counter-protesters who oppose abortion rights met the marchers when they arrived at the Supreme Court, shouting and waving signs such as “I Am the Pro-Life Generation.”
The Women’s March crowd shouted back, chanting, “My body, my choice” and “Roe v. Wade is here to stay.”
“I am a woman. I am interested in women’s rights. I thought I needed to be here,” said Sherri Bledsoe who flew from Orlando, Florida, to attend the march in Washington.
On Friday, more than 50 people from Texas demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court in support of abortion rights. Several had testified the day before at a House committee hearing on abortion rights.