Protesters have rallied under the slogan “off our bodies” in cities across the United States, demanding abortion rights be protected after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion nationwide.
Thousands of people turned out for a pro-abortion rights rally in New York City on Tuesday, one of the largest demonstrations as Americans awoke to political and social upheaval months before voters go to the polls in congressional midterm elections.
“I hope it inspires people to show up in the midterms and vote, and that’s the one thing that I’m looking at as a positive,” Alaina Feehan, 41, a talent manager in New York City, told the Reuters news agency, calling the moment a “call to action”.
Protests were held in US cities coast to coast this week, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle, as the national Women’s March organisation urged supporters to bring families and signs to “courthouses and federal buildings everywhere” promoting the social media hashtag #BansOffOurBodies.
The Supreme Court itself became the epicentre for some of the earliest protests on both sides of the issue after the surprise publication of the 98-page draft ruling late on Monday by the news outlet Politico.
Demonstrators converged on the sidewalk just beyond the barricaded marble steps of the court across from the US Capitol on Tuesday, boisterously but peacefully voicing support for and opposition to ending a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.
Several dozen anti-abortion rights activists dominated the protests early in the day, beating on drums and chanting through megaphones: “Pro-choice is a lie, babies never choose to die,” and “Abortion is violence, abortion is oppression”.
Some knelt in prayer.
One man wearing a pink sweatshirt in support of Roe v Wade tried in vain to tamp down the chants of an anti-Roe protester by holding his hand over her megaphone.