Pro-choice demonstrators rally across the US over expected reversal of Roe v Wade – live

1 week ago

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

As one of the New York city protests moved onto the entrance of the Brooklyn bridge, demonstrators chanted “Bans off our bodies now!” Drummers in the procession provided a powerful rhythm alongside the chants. “This bridge represents all of the states in this nation. We will not be divided!” New York state attorney General Letitia James said.

Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations, in New York City
Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations, in New York City Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters
Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations, in New York City
Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations, in New York City Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Striking images have emerged from the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Washington DC.

Here are a few:

Abortion rights protester Christa from Atlanta participates in nationwide pro-choice demonstrations in Washington, US, May 14, 2022.
Abortion rights protester Christa from Atlanta participates in nationwide pro-choice demonstrations in Washington, US, May 14, 2022. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters
Abortion rights activist rally at the Washington Monument before a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, May 14, 2022.
Abortion rights activist rally at the Washington Monument before a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, May 14, 2022. Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AFP/Getty Images
Abortion rights activist rally at the Washington Monument before a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, May 14, 2022.
Abortion rights activist rally at the Washington Monument before a march to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, May 14, 2022. Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AFP/Getty Images
Abortion rights activists participate in a Bans Off Our Bodies rally on May 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Abortion rights activists participate in a Bans Off Our Bodies rally on May 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

People of all ages, races and genders marching for abortion rights

Protesters have started to march from Cadman Plaza, in Brooklyn, toward the Brooklyn Bridge, en route to Downtown Manhattan, in a demonstration for reproductive health rights. It is one of hundreds of demonstrations across the US following a leaked draft Supreme Court decision that suggests the justices will vote to overturn Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion in the US.

Protesters rally during an abortion rights demonstration, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York
Protesters rally during an abortion rights demonstration, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York Photograph: Jeenah Moon/AP


The mood among the two-to-three thousand present is enthusiasm marked by solemnity. People of all ages, races, and genders are participating in this walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The front line is carrying a green sign that reads “Our bodies, our abortions.” Others hold signs that read “Abortion is healthcare” and “My body, my choice.”
“I always want my right to an abortion to be free and accessible,” protester Nicole Cornell 22, told The Guardian. “It’s my own choice to be pregnant. I don’t want the government to infringe on that right.” Protesters are also expected to gather in New York City’s Union Square at 2 pm.

Abortion rights activists are rallying outside Texas’s State Capitol:

As the US braces for the end of a federal right to abortion, a new six-week ban in Oklahoma offers a preview of what’s to come.

The day after the supreme court leak, Andrea Gallegos had already started to cancel patients’ appointments.

In the aftermath, Gallegos, the administrator for Tulsa Women’s Clinic, an Oklahoma-based abortion provider, wasn’t worried about Roe – at least, it wasn’t the first thing she was worried about.

To her, there was a bigger, more immediate threat: a six-week abortion ban the Republican governor was expected to sign any day now.

That same evening, to little fanfare, Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law the six-week abortion ban. The state supreme court declined to block the ban. If the clinic saw their patients on Wednesday, they risked civil lawsuits with a penalty of up to $10,000.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks after signing into law a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison on April 12, 2022/
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks after signing into law a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison on April 12, 2022/ Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/AP

So Gallegos did what she had dreaded. She began calling back patients who were past six weeks pregnant. The scheduled appointments would have to be canceled. If they wanted to seek an abortion, she told them, they should look somewhere else – Kansas, New Mexico or, a bit further away, Colorado.

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

More protesters arrive in New York

State judicial races become increasingly politicized over issues such as abortion, partisan gerrymandering and gun rights.

Spending and campaigning around the judicial races could intensify if the US supreme court overturns Roe v Wade, which a leaked draft opinion indicates justices are prepared to do.

“State courts are going to be front-and-center in the fight over abortion access,” said Doug Keith, an attorney in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “These races in some states are likely going to take a prominence that they’ve never had before.”

Michigan is among the states where abortion could be a central factor in court races this fall. One Democratic and one Republican justice are up for reelection to a court where Democrats hold a 4-3 majority. The races are technically non-partisan, even though candidates are nominated by political parties.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the state’s high court to recognize a right to abortion in the state Constitution.

She also wants it to declare unconstitutional a 1931 near-total abortion ban that would go into effect if Roe is reversed.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. September 16, 2021.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. September 16, 2021. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

‘I thought it was sickening’

Santiago Bueno and his infant, Adelaide, are among the hundreds who have gathered at Cadman Plaza in New York City today to protest for reproductive rights. Bueno explains why, as a father of a daughter, he felt it important to attend after the leaked Supreme Court opinion that would reverse Roe v Wade.

Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are ready to ban abortion. She said she might not be alive today if she had not had a legal abortion when she was 15.

“I was already starting to self harm and I would have rather died than have a baby,” Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois, told the Associated Press.

The upcoming high court ruling in a case from Mississippi stands to energize voters, potentially shaping the upcoming midterm elections.

Kimmons, 46, said she believes the focus needs to be on those races. “We have to vote in pro-choice politicians because women’s lives depend on it,” she said.

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

‘Roe is really the floor ... it has not been easy for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to get access’

Nimmi Penmatsa and Becca Asaki are at Cadman Plaza this Saturday morning, as organizers with the Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. Both said that people within the AAPI community faced challenges accessing reproductive health services. Overturning Roe would only make things worse, they said.

“We are at a really critical time in our country,” said Penmatsa, 26. “We are facing the very real possibility of losing our right to our bodily autonomy.”

“I’m part of the AAPI community. We face so many barriers when it comes to abortion--language barriers, cultural stigma,” Penmatsa said. “I fear that what will happen if Roe is overturned ... we’re going to create an environment where people will have no place to go.”

And absent access to safe reproductive health services, Penmatsa said, people will seek out potentially life threatening solutions.

“Roe has really been the floor,” said Asaki, 35. “It has not always been the reality for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to access our full abortion rights.

“We have been fighting to expand our abortion access,” Asaki said, explaining that a Roe reversal “would be immediately detrimental to our ability to access abortion.”

There are lots of strong images and videos coming out from the protests, here’s a selection from Charlottesville, Virginia:

the bans off our bodies rally + protest march has gathered on the downtown mall outside charlottesville city hall. there’s a couple hundred people here now with speakers starting soon pic.twitter.com/3FfUZVCL7N

— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) May 14, 2022

I’m outside of the Federal Building in Charlottesville covering the “Bans Off Our Bodies” march and there is a lot of supportive honking. pic.twitter.com/Uq4GmFxmZ1

— Allison Wrabel (@craftypanda) May 14, 2022

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

‘I’m here for my friend, and all women’

Women gathering in New York city, where multiple protests are planned, are talking about what is motivating them to be part of Saturday’s actions.

Beth and Victoria explain why they are at today's reproductive rights demonstration in Cadman Plaza, which starts at 12. Hundreds of protests are expected across the US today following a draft US supreme court decision leaked indicating a possible reversal of Roe v Wade pic.twitter.com/dtUJpUWL43

— Victoria Bekiempis (@vicbekiempis) May 14, 2022

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

‘What direction is the US moving towards with that decision?’

Julie Kinsella traveled to Brooklyn from Saratoga Springs, New York to participate in Saturday’s demonstration, explaining that she felt “outrage” and “anger” when news broke about the draft opinion.

“This is to stop things from happening,” explained Kinsella, 35, of why she decided to protest. “We have made so much progress up until this point. I would just hate to see us backtrack and fight for what we already have right now.”

Kinsella, an educator, described her reaction to the draftthe leaked opinion suggests that the US supreme court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. “How can they take away what I feel is a human right from us?” Kinsella said. “It just made me think: What direction is the US moving toward with that decision?”

Kinsella said this is her first time protesting.”In the last five, 10 years, I’ve seen many things that anger me,” she said. “I can’t keep sitting back.”

An abortion rights protester writes on the sidewalk in New York city
An abortion rights protester writes on the sidewalk in New York city Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

Conservative justice Clarence Thomas has called the leak of the supreme court abortion draft “tremendously bad.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Photograph: Robert Franklin/AP

“What happened at the court was tremendously bad,” Thomas, 73, said in a dialog at a conference of conservative and libertarian thinkers in Dallas.

“I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them...And then I wonder when they’re gone or destabilized, what we’re going to have as a country,” he said.

The comments came one week after the justice said he feared that the judicial system will come under threat if people are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with” and that recent events at the apex court might be “one symptom of that”.

Victoria Bekiempis

Victoria Bekiempis

Protesters gather in New York: ‘This has been coming’

By 10am local time, reproductive rights advocates started arriving at Cadman Plaza, in Brooklyn, New York City, to prepare for a demonstration scheduled for noon.

Organizer Jillian White is among them. “I’m deeply concerned about the erosion of our rights,” White, 35, told The Guardian. “I feel like it’s important to show up and do everything that I can.”

Good morning from Cadman Plaza, in BK NYC. Organizers are here in advance of the reproductive rights demonstration today, following the leaked draft on Roe. Will be following NYC demonstrations for @GuardianUS. Organizer Jillian White explains why she is here: pic.twitter.com/LnPnKaj0ob

— Victoria Bekiempis (@vicbekiempis) May 14, 2022

Demonstrators are gathering at the park as the US supreme court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the watershed 1973 decision which made abortion legal. On 2 May, a draft decision leaked to Politico showed that five conservative justices on the nine-judge panel had voted to overturn the decision.

“I think I was surprised about the leak, not about its contents,” White said. “This has been coming for a very long time. My heart hurt, but I wasn’t surprised.”

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s coverage of Saturday’s abortion rallies that are set to take place across the nation.

We will be covering it all live and have reporters at some of the main protest sites, including Washington DC, New York City and Los Angeles.

With the US supreme court apparently poised to overturn the 1973 landmark decision which made abortion legal, hundreds of thousands of people across America are planning to take to the streets to protest the looming decision.

A coalition of groups such as Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn and the Women’s March are organizing Saturday’s demonstrations, whose rallying cry is “Bans Off Our Bodies”.

More than 380 events are set from Maine to Hawaii, with the largest gatherings expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other big cities, organizers said.

In the nation’s capital, activists planned to gather at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by a security fence.

The demonstrations come after the leak on 2 May of a draft opinion showing five conservatives on the nine-justice supreme court had voted to reverse their predecessors’ ruling in Roe v Wade nearly 50 years ago.

Unless the provisional ruling is changed substantially before becoming final, abortion would be outlawed essentially immediately in more than half of US states.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that for the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.

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