Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
As legal fights raise concerns about the future accessibility of the abortion medication mifepristone, reproductive rights supporters on Saturday rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court and in cities across the country.
The demonstrations came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a recent ruling by Texas-based federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who struck down the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2000 approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs often taken in tandem for abortions.
However, the high court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which reversed Roe v. Wade and overturned a half-century of abortion rights, is fueling fears of what the future holds, as Republican-controlled states across the country continue passing legislation to further limit the choices of pregnant people.
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Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. president and CEO Laura Meyers, who spoke at the rally in the nation’s capital, noted the Dobbs decision and, referring to Kacsmaryk’s ruling earlier this month, said that “now we have judges who are not medical doctors making decisions that affect millions of people’s lives.”
“I am outraged,” Meyers told The Washington Post. “I hope that the court relies on science, and not just junk and ideology. I hope that the court understands that the overwhelming vast majority of Americans do not want to see restrictions on abortion. Americans do not want judges and politicians interfering with our healthcare decisions.”
ACLU of D.C. policy counsel Melissa Wasser, who also spoke at the rally, stressed that the long-term risks of rulings like Kacsmaryk’s go far beyond abortion rights, saying: “Today it’s mifepristone. Tomorrow it could be a vaccine.”
“It could be another medication or lifesaving treatment,” Wasser warned. “And that means that every fringe group can just go pick a judge, and with the stroke of a pen, millions of people will not get the lifesaving healthcare that they need.”
Bird's-eye view of the abortion rights march on Capitol Hill this afternoon, part of a multi-city day of protest by women's rights advocates and health care providers against efforts to restrict mifepristone. "Keep abortion safe and legal!" pic.twitter.com/jYP7SriAaS
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According to Agence France-Presse:
Many septuagenarians were also marching in front of the Supreme Court, outraged to see restrictions piling up in the country, 50 years after having fought for the right to an abortion.
An abortion “saved my life,” said Barbara Kraft, who had an abortion in the late 1970s after serious complications during her pregnancy.
“I feel so strongly that women have to have the right to make that decision for themselves,” she said.
“The ACLU and Planned Parenthood and several other national partner organizations have been following this case out of Texas for months and we organized and coordinated to host rallies on the same day across the country,” Samantha Chapman, the advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota, told a local news outlet.
“Self-managed abortion is safe and it is essential healthcare. I’ve done it,” said Chapman. “People who support abortion access are never going to go away. We will continue to take care of ourselves and take care of our communities.”
The Seattle Times reported that in the Washington city, protesters marched down Pine Street through Capitol Hill and into the downtown area, where they blocked an intersection, while chanting, “Fascist judges make us ill, hands off the abortion pill,” and “Abortion pills are under attack, we won’t go back.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, demonstrators in the Illinois city delivered speeches at Federal Plaza before marching through the Loop and Millennium Park, and similarly chanted, “Red state, blue state, you can’t hide, the war on abortion is nationwide,” and “Fascist judges make me ill, hands off the abortion pill.”
Since the Dobbs ruling, Illinois has been inundated with “abortion refugees” who can’t get healthcare in surrounding states.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights organizer Jay Becker warned that “we are facing the greatest threat to women’s lives and freedoms since last summer when the Supreme Court decided women are second-class citizens.”
“To revoke the approval of mifepristone is a major step toward banning abortion nationwide,” Becker added. “This is all about female enslavement and whether women will be treated as full human beings or not.”
Floridians gathered in West Palm Beach on Saturday to protest not only attacks on reproductive rights across the country but also a six-week abortion ban signed into law this week by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a presumed 2024 presidential candidate.
“We need to get mad and we need to show we’re mad and this is going to change the whole country,” said Ellen Baker, a board member of the Democratic Women’s Club of Palm Beach County, which organized the rally. “I was in high school when Roe v. Wade was passed and so for me, it’s, how can we go backward? How can my grandkids have fewer rights than me?”
The rally in Los Angeles, California featured a speech from Vice President Kamala Harris, who declared: “This is a moment that history will show required each of us, based on our collective love of our country, to stand up and fight for and protect our ideals. That’s what this moment is.”