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Thousands take to the streets in Washington, Texas to protest restrictive abortion laws

Thousands rallied in Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and cities around the nation Saturday morning to protest against recent legislative efforts to restrict access to abortion, which has become the biggest threat to Roe v. Wade in decades.

The march in Washington, which concluded at the Supreme Court, comes before the high court convenes on Monday. 

The court is slated to hear the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case on a Mississippi abortion ban, which blocks the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.  

“No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep,” said Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, speaking at the D.C. march. 

Protesters in the nation’s capital were vocal about their stance, with many carrying signs and wearing costumes honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRobby Soave says liberals should be ‘concerned’ about ACLU changing Ginsburg tweet Amy Coney Barrett sullies the Supreme Court ACLU chief apologizes for altering Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote with gender-neutral language: report MORE.  

More scenes from today’s #WomensMarch in Washington, DC pic.twitter.com/gl5Q1xitv2

— Julia Manchester (@JuliaManch) October 2, 2021

“We just think that we can’t expect change or people to not feel like it’s OK to infringe on our rights if we don’t show and show them that it’s not okay,” said Dawn Corporan, who traveled to the D.C. march from Suffolk, Va. 

While the march in D.C. was smaller than the march after former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden’s Red Queen justice: How he destroyed both the investigation and the reputation of border agents Trump asks judge to force Twitter to lift ban Trump teases Schumer about occasional Ocasio-Cortez challenge MORE’s inauguration in 2017, thousands still lined the streets to demonstrate, traveling from near and far. 

“We’ve got to support, man,” said Susan Baxter, who traveled from Silicon Valley and represented doctor- led and female-founded birth control company Pandia Health. “That’s one of the reasons why the company was started, so that women have a choice.” 

More than 600 sister marches simultaneously took place across the country, a testament to the reach of the Women’s March. 

At the Texas State Capitol in Austin, which has become the epicenter of the abortion rights debate, organizers announced an estimated 35,000 protesters had showed up to cheer a three-hour speaker lineup that included former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D). 

Many slammed Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottTrump applies more pressure on Abbott to support Texas election audit Abbott calls for Texas legislature to increase penalty for illegal voting Noem denies conservative site’s report on affair with Lewandowski: ‘A disgusting lie’ MORE (R), who signed legislation into law this summer that makes abortion illegal approximately six weeks after conception, a time before many people even know they are pregnant. 

It also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and other individuals who “aid and abet” a person’s abortion.  

“Gov. Greg Abbott and Republicans in the legislature put their own political ambitions ahead of the people of this state and Greg Abbott traded away the health and wellbeing of our state for crass partisan politics,” Richards told the crowd.  

Davis, who famously spoke for almost 12 hours on the Texas Senate floor in 2013 to prevent passage of a previous bill aimed at restricting abortion access, vowed to not give up the fight. 

“We are powerful, we are indefatigable, and for our daughters, our granddaughters, our trans and nonbinary friends, we are not stopping,” Davis said. 

Abbott has defended the law, saying that the ban allows victims of rape up to six weeks to get an abortion and pledged to “eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas.” 

Women of all ages spoke at the Austin march, including doctors who discussed difficult recent conversations they had been forced to have with pregnant people since the Texas law went into effect on Sept. 1.  

“She cried in my office and said, ‘I can’t eat, I can’t sleep … why will no one help me,’ ” Vanessa Yium, an OB-GYN based in Austin, recounted of a conversation with a patient looking to have an abortion past six weeks due to the fetus having a terminal abnormality. “All I could say is, Texas does not care about you.” 

Small groups of anti-abortion protesters were present at both the Washington, D.C., and Austin events, but in both cities, they were drowned out by pro-abortion rights protesters standing in front of them.

 

Small group of counter protesters chanting “pro-choice thats a lie” but getting drowned out by chants of “my body my choice” #WomensMarch2021 pic.twitter.com/1JdrfkjDVr

— Julia Manchester (@JuliaManch) October 2, 2021

 

The nationwide gathering marked the organization’s first march since the coronavirus pandemic.  

Marchers in Washington were required to wear masks due to crowds and signs on the Jumbotrons reminded people to keep 6 feet apart. In Austin, most rallygoers donned masks as well.  

The rallies and marches were also the first since Trump left office in 2020, initially leading to questions as to how the organization would proceed, after being one of the most prominent groups to oppose the former president. 

Leaders and speakers at the marches were quick to remind protesters that their work was far from over, particularly as more states advance laws aimed at restricting abortion.

“I always believed with the passing of time, progress would happen, change for the greater good would happen,” said Latina comedian and activist Cristela Alonzo, who hosted the D.C. march. “But now, I stand here because lawmakers are working on doing the exact opposite.” 

That same sentiment was held by the marchers. 

“These marches are so important because they show our lawmakers that we’re here to stay,” said Alex Kelly, who came from Frederick, Md., to attend her first Women’s March on Saturday. 

“We’re going to look back on today as the moment we came together to say, no more,” Richards said in Austin. “We deserve better, and we have only just begun to fight.”

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