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Roe v Wade protest

Reproductive rights protesters rally outside a federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on May 3, 2022. (Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

'Five-Alarm Fire': Anger, Resolve as Thousands Rally Nationwide for Reproductive Rights

"It took a mass movement to win Roe," said Seattle rally host and city lawmaker Kshama Sawant, "and it'll take a mass movement to defend it."

Brett Wilkins

Thousands of reproductive rights defenders took to the streets of cities across the United States on Tuesday, one day after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned sent shockwaves across the nation.

"Beyond protests, we will need mass meetings to plan next steps for the movement including direct action and even strikes."

In New York City, where messages on demonstrators' placards ranged from "liberty presumes an autonomy of self" to "get your fucking hands off our bodies," state Attorney General Letitia James was among the thousands of protesters who rallied in Foley Square. James shared that she had an abortion while serving on the New York City Council.

"This is a call to action, this is a five-alarm fire, my friends," James shouted to the crowd, according to The New York Times. "This is a time to act, this is not the time to be silent because silence is the enemy right now."

Derek Holmes, a 26-year-old man, told the Times that he was attending the rally because he had "been in a situation where having an abortion saved me from becoming an ill-equipped father."

Hannah Jacobs, a lawyer from New Jersey, told Mother Jones that "a group of men that are 70, 80-years-old—who have lifetime appointments, that have not been voted into office—should not have a say over whether I choose to have a baby or not."

"They're not 'pro-life,' they’re 'pro-birth,'" she said. "As soon as the baby comes out, they don't give a damn who that baby is, they don't give a damn about the mom, they don't give a damn about health care… they just want to exert control over our bodies."

In Washington, D.C., a large crowd gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court to stand up for the right to choose, with many chanting: "Abortion rights are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!"

"I'm here because of the decision that was leaked last night. We are imminently about to lose the right to safe and legal abortions in this country. And I am angered, outraged and disappointed," Krithika Harish of Washington, D.C. told Al Jazeera. "It's inconceivable to me that my future daughter might have less rights than 50 years ago."

Amy Marden, a Virginia attorney, told the outlet that after reading the Politico article revealing the high court's draft opinion, "I called my mom and we cried. My mom was out here fighting for abortion rights in the '70s."

"Honestly, if we don't have precedent in our country, we don't have rights," she added. "None of our rights are safe."

Supreme Court protester Shelby Davis-Cooper, a fourth-year medical student at Georgetown University pursuing an OB/GYN residency, told The Washington Post that "ultimately this a matter of human rights, and human rights should not be debated on a state-by-state basis."

In Chicago, student protesters chanted, "No more shame, no more silence, forced motherhood is fascist violence."

San Francisco marchers vowed to "rise up, rise up for abortion rights!"

In Phoenix, the rallying cry at the Arizona State Capitol was "Ho ho, hey hey, Roe v. Wade has got to stay."

Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who hosted a rally in Westlake Park, said before the event that "it took a mass movement to win Roe, and it'll take a mass movement to defend it."

"We need emergency coordinated protests this week in every major city and town to kick off a sustained nationwide movement," she added. "Beyond protests, we will need mass meetings to plan next steps for the movement including direct action and even strikes."

Discussing the high court's draft opinion, Aileen Day, communications director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, told WSYX at a Columbus demonstration that "it is not surprising, even though it is devastating that it will be overturned."

"It took us generations of work to get where we are now," she added, "and it will take generations of work to get the right to choose back. Our rights are our rights. They can make abortion illegal but we will still be able to access abortion."

In Syracuse, New York, Nada Odeh, founder of the local chapter of the Women's March, called the prospect of Roe's reversal "really kind of overwhelming and kind of disappointing, honestly."

"I don't want to feel the same here," the Syrian refugee told CNY Central. "I want freedom. I want to feel that this is the country I love. I feel like as a woman I don't want anyone to control my body. No one chooses abortion if they don't have to."

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