The first Women’s March of the Biden administration headed straight for the steps of the Supreme Court, part of nationwide protests that drew thousands to Washington and other cities to demand continued access to abortion.
Many thousands of demonstrators filled the streets surrounding the court, shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.
Before heading out on the march, they rallied in a square near the White House. Many waved signs that said “Mind your own uterus,” “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate,” among other messages.
Some wore T-shirts reading simply “1973,” a reference to the landmark Roe v Wade decision, which made abortion legal for generations of American women.
Organisers say the Washington march will be among hundreds of abortion-themed protests around the country. The demonstrations took place just before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court on Monday that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by ex-president Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court.
“Shame, shame, shame” marchers chanted while walking past the Trump International Hotel on their way to the Supreme Court. Some booed and waived their fists at the Trump landmark.
The day before the march, the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September.
It is one of a series of cases that will give the nation’s divided high court occasion to uphold or overrule Roe v. Wade.
The Texas law motivated many of the demonstrators and speakers.
In New York, Gov Kathy Hochul spoke at rallies in Seneca Falls and then Albany. “I’m sick and tired of having to fight over abortion rights,” she said. “It’s settled law in the nation and you are not taking that right away from us, not now not ever.”
At an unrelated event in Maine, Republican Sen Susan Collins called the Texas law “extreme, inhumane and unconstitutional” and said she is working to make Roe v Wade the “law of the land.”
She said she is working with two Democrats and another Republican, and they’re “vetting” the language of their bill. Ms Collins declined to identify her colleagues, but said the legislation will be introduced soon.
The Women’s March has become a regular event — although interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic — since millions of women turned out in the United States and around the world the day after the January 2017 inauguration of Mr Trump.
Mr Trump endorsed punishing women for getting abortions and made appointment of conservative judges a mission of his presidency.