Women’s March: Protesters rally for abortion rights ahead of midterms

Thousands of people gathered in Washington and in cities across the country Saturday to rally for reproductive rights, one month before the midterm elections.

Under blue skies and with beautiful fall breezes, demonstrators gathered in Folger Park in DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for the Women’s March.

It was part of a “Women’s Wave” day of action organized by the Women’s March and other groups to emphasize to supporters that this year’s midterms are a crucial time to back candidates the movement sees as supporting abortion rights.

“Now, everything feels very much like a fight for everything we love,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, the executive director of the Women’s March. “It’s the first election since Beet has fallen in this new era of American democracy, and it’s really important that women turn out as a voting bloc.”

At 1:30 pm, the march was to begin traveling from Folger Park to Union Square, near the Capitol Reflecting Pool, according to the Women’s March.

At Folger Park, pop music blared from a sound system as the crowd began gathering near a stage, many hoisting signs — “Abort the court” and “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights.”

People wore shirts that said “My body my choice,” “Won’t go back,” and “Abortion justice voter.” Marchers brought dogs, and wheeled along children in strollers. One woman wore a cow costume, holding a sign that read: “Women are not cattle for breeding.”

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Staci Lee, 45, had come from her home in Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio, to be part of the demonstration.

“I’m here to say, ‘Stay out of my uterus,'” Lee said. She said what she called the erosion of the separation of church and state was a critical issue for her.

“I don’t know why they are now saying we are a Christian nation,” she said. “We are a melting-pot nation, and putting your religious views on everyone is just wrong.”

Elizabeth Rummage, 36, a college history major and mother of three boys, said she thinks the country is “absolutely going backward.” She traveled from North Carolina for Saturday’s march.

“This is absolutely not what I want for my family and friends,” she said. “I came here to show that there is power in groups.”

Organizers expected 2,000 people at this demonstration, according to a permit issued by the National Park Service, and by early Saturday afternoon, there were easily that many people in the park.

Demonstrators carried other signs reading, “Ignore abortions like you ignore mass shootings,” and “We are the daughters of the witches you never burned.”

A small group of counter protesters arrived near the start of the rally in a corner of the park, raising a large sign reading “abortion=murder,” but their sign and chants were drowned out by abortion rights demonstrators.

Comedian and actress Lea DeLaria addressed the rally in the park. “Women have a lot of rage right now,” she said. “We are going to make them listen to us. We have had it.”

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 49-year-old decision that guaranteed a person’s constitutional right to have an abortion in June.

Democrats aim to keep the spotlight on abortion, as they face midterm head winds

The midterm elections are expected to determine the future of abortion access in states including Pennsylvania and Michigan, where Democratic governors have blocked antiabortion legislation proposed or passed by Republican-led legislatures.

The election results will also determine which party controls Congress and how much power deniers of the 2020 presidential election could secure in key battleground states ahead of the 2024 presidential contest.

On Saturday, hundreds of events were taking place across the country, including in states that have banned or mostly banned abortion, among them Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Idaho, according to the Women’s March. Other organizers include the groups UltraViolet, All* Above All, the National Women’s Law Center, the American Federation of Teachers and local activists.

The first Women’s March, after Trump’s 2016 election, drew millions of protesters to DC and to other cities across the country for similar marches. Thousands of protesters marched in DC this May after the leaking of a draft of a Supreme Court opinion signaling that the justices were positioned to overturn Beet.

Abortion rights advocates with Our Rights DC, a group that has been organizing protests outside the conservative justices’ homes for months, are planning simultaneous protests on Saturday at 6:30 pm, after the Women’s March, at the homes of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Updates to this article will continue.

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