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Abortion rights defenders arrested in Washington, DC

Abortion rights advocates, including Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), are cleared from Constitution Ave. and First Street by police during a sit-in near the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'We Will Fight! We Will Win!': Nearly 200 Abortion Rights Defenders Arrested in DC

"If people don't see the rage," said one woman at the protest, "nothing changes."

Jon Queally

Nearly 200 abortion rights advocates were arrested in Washington, D.C. on Thursday as they railed against the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week that destroyed the protections afforded by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and demanded lawmakers act urgently to codify those rights into federal law.

Organized by the Center for Popular Democracy and Planned Parenthood Action, the demonstration that ended with civil disobedience in the streets featured prominent civil rights leaders like Rev. William Barber of the Poor People's Campaign and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.).

"I'm not backing down, not now, not ever," Chu tweeted alongside a photo of her arrest.

"The decision to march today was easy," she said. "I came out to march for the young rape survivor, the woman who cannot afford to travel to another state to access critical care, the mother with an ectopic pregnancy whose life is in danger.  I came out to march for all of us."

Capitol Police said they arrested 181 people for staging a sit-in at the intersection of First Street and Constitution Avenue, just outside the Russell Senate Office Building and not far from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"If people don't see the rage, nothing changes," said protest participant Katelyn Leonard, a 39-year-old public school teacher who spoke to the Washington Post.

Following her arrest and subsequent release, Chu sat down with two young protesters to ask why they had showed up. "It was an honor to be arrested alongside these young women who are fighting tirelessly to protect our right to abortion," said Chu.

One of the women she spoke with said she started participating in social justice work and reproductive rights advocacy when she was 15.

"I showed up today for those other 15-year-olds," she said, "who deserve to control their bodies and control their futures, and whose potential deserves to be protected today and not tomorrow. And I showed up for the people who've shown up before me, because this is an intergenerational movement and a real moment to keep fighting."

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