Hundreds rally at US Supreme Court, call state abortion bans step 'backward'

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2019

Abortion-rights campaigners, including Democrats seeking their party's 2020 presidential nomination, have rallied at the US Supreme Court in Washington to protest against new restrictions on abortion passed by Republican-dominated legislatures in eight states.

In Atlanta, protesters held signs reading "Our bodies, our choice" and "You, yes you: Run for office".

More than 50 organizations - including the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America - are participating in #StopTheBans protests nationwide. Rallies began taking place at noon local time in nearly all 50 states.

"Across the country, we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access", organizers said.

On Sunday, hundreds of marchers took to the streets in Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville to protest the abortion ban that Ivey signed into law.

States have passed 16 abortion restrictions or bans so far this year - including two in Utah. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY.

"I stand in solidarity with those across the country to #StopTheBans", Sen.

The restrictive new laws are contrary to the Roe vs Wade ruling made more than four decades ago, which afforded a woman the right to an abortion up to the moment the foetus would be viable outside the womb, which is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.

The Alabama law is to take effect in November.

The Missouri law also contains no rape or incest exemptions.

"It would be absolutely devastating" if the ruling were overturned, said Michaela Masson, a 25-year-old working in government affairs in the USA capital.

Many of these laws are meant to draw legal challenges which religious conservatives hope will lead the nation's top court to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling that established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. Kennedy was replaced by President Donald Trump's conservative appointee Brett Kavanaugh, who has a thin record on abortion.

A CBS News poll finds 67% of Americans want the Supreme Court to keep Roe v. Wade as is, however.

But there is no guarantee that any of the laws recently passed, including the one in Alabama, will be taken up by the high court.

Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota have enacted restrictive laws, while Florida and Texas are considering doing the same.

Washington state has a law in place that forbids the state from denying or interfering with a woman's right to choose abortion.

Yvonne Garcia, from the American Civil Liberties Union of OR, told the crowd that the national group has already filed lawsuits challenging recent abortion restrictions in Kentucky and OH and plans to do the same in Georgia and Alabama. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler reports that activists focused on two messages: that abortion is still legal in the state, and that reproductive rights and maternal healthcare will be major issues in 2020.

Carrying an orange sign with a coat hanger and the caption "No Never Again", 69-year-old Deborah Hall of Montgomery said she remembers life before Roe and can't believe the push to return there.

"Politicians shouldn't be making decisions best left to women, their families, and their doctors".

"People are screaming at the women as they come in", she said.

"We bet you are frustrated".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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