Tens of thousands march across US for abortion rights

Demonstrators targeting new law in state of Texas

Andrew John Roesgen   | 03.10.2021
Tens of thousands march across US for abortion rights

CHICAGO, United States 

Abortion-rights demonstrators took to the streets across the US on Saturday to protest a restrictive new abortion law in the state of Texas and implore the Supreme Court to block it.

Rallies were planned in about 650 cities, representing groups such as the Women's March, Planned Parenthood and the Center for American Progress, and joined by countless ordinary Americans.

At issue is an abortion law that went into effect in Texas a month ago, which outlaws abortion after six weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

"Extremely odious," Chicago rally organizer Paula Thornton-Greear told Anadolu Agency. "Most people do not know they are pregnant at six weeks, so you are, in effect, putting a complete ban on access to abortion."

But what has critics especially angry is the provision in the Texas law that allows any private citizen to essentially spy on and sue, someone in the state if it is suspected that an abortion is being performed after six weeks.

The woman seeking an abortion is immune from being sued but an abortion provider can be sued, as can a taxi or Uber driver who might take the woman to get an abortion.

Texas Monthly magazine, doing a deep dive into the law, reports that a person who writes a check to an abortion provider to help a woman obtain an abortion after six weeks but does not send the check, can still be sued.

"Again, odious," according to Thornton-Greear.

"You're putting a bounty on people. You are putting it into the hands of people that may not be associated in any way with a person who is exercising their fundamental rights to get abortion access. You're putting a price on their head, their providers' head, their families' head. It is just atrocious."

Attorneys for the US Justice Department went before a federal judge Friday in an attempt to get the law blocked, at least temporarily.

Also in court were attorneys for the state who argued that the new law is not "an unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice" as the Justice Department argued.

The Texas attorneys argued that women are still getting abortions in the state, although the number, they estimated, is about 40% to 60% of what it was before the law took effect. A ruling could come at any time.

Abortion clinics in neighboring states are reporting an increase in Texas women crossing the border to get abortions.

The demonstrators hoped the Supreme Court will take up the Texas case when the court reconvenes Monday. The court declined, by a 5-4 vote, an emergency request to take up the case last month while it was out of session. The court now has a majority of conservative justices and it could be one of the biggest tests of abortion rights since the Court delivered the landmark Roe versus Wade decision in 1973 that made abortion rights legal.

Saturday's rally in downtown Chicago was boisterous, upbeat and defiant. Thousands held signs which included "We are not ovary-reacting," "My rage will not fit on a sign," "Eat the patriarchy," "We need to talk about the elephant in the womb," and "This episode of the Handmaid's Tale sucks," a reference to the popular television series about women being subjugated in a dystopian future. Among the demonstrators were women, heads bowed, dressed in the long red robes of Handmaid's Tale characters.

There was a small group of anti-abortion demonstrators, carrying signs that read "Abortion kills" and talking on loud speakers.

They eventually trailed behind the abortion-rights rally-goers as they began marching through the streets but police kept the two sides apart.

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