Thousands are gathering in Washington, DC, and other cities around the country to protest the possible elimination of abortion rights, amid fears the Supreme Court is set to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision this summer.
The protests are taking place less than two weeks after a draft Supreme Court ruling leaked. The ruling signaled five conservative Supreme Court justices are set to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could lead to a number of states eliminating access to abortion.
“We are here because a handful of people have weaponized the very structures of our democracy,” Kelley Robinson, the executive director for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said at the start of the DC protest.
“We are here to show them that we are the majority, y’all. Look around. You’re the majority. And we’re here this weekend with a clear message to anyone who wants control of our bodies: Keep your bans off our bodies y’all.”
The demonstration, part of a wider network of “Bans Off Our Bodies” protests across the US, kicked off at noon at the Washington monument and is expected to end at the Supreme Court, according to official details of the event.
Organizations supporting the demonstrations include Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Women’s March, MoveOn, and UltraViolet.
Event organizers say that close to 400 rallies are scheduled for Saturday, according to the Associated Press, with tens of thousands of people anticipated to participate.
Online, some politicians showed solidarity with the protesters or urged others to participate.
“Extremists want to force their unpopular agenda on the rest of America by rolling back abortion rights—and opening the door to investigate miscarriages, track OB-GYNs, & collect information on anyone who pulls into a clinic parking lot. But we’re fighting back. #BansOffOurBodies,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted.
“Across the country, Americans are standing up for abortion rights—and I’m proud of everyone making their voices heard. Join a march near you,” former President Obama tweetedincluding a link to a slew of the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rallies.
The leaked abortion rights decision was published by Politico earlier this month.
Speaking about the leak on Friday, Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the five conservatives reportedly ready to overturn Roe v. Wade said the incident had eroded trust in the high court.
“The institution that I’m a part of, if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone… you would say, ‘Oh, that’s impossible. No one would ever do that.’ There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing that was verboten. It was beyond anyone’s understanding, or at least anyone’s imagination, that someone would do that,” Thomas said during an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institution in Dallas.
“And look where we are, where now that trust or that belief is gone forever. And when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally,” he added.
Critics of the court and GOP leaders in Congress note that a GOP Senate refused to give a hearing to Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016.
That helped pave the way for former President Trump to appoint three judges to the Supreme Court, which appears to have led to the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The Senate failed to advance legislation to codify abortion protections this week after all Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) voted against the legislation.
The House Judiciary Committee is slated to hold a hearing next week on the implications of what could happen should Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.