WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hundreds of U.S. abortion-rights campaigners, including Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, rallied in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to protest new restrictions on abortion passed by legislatures in eight states.
Demonstrators protest new restrictions on abortion passed by legislatures in eight states including Alabama and Georgia, in New York, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Many of the restrictions are intended to draw legal challenges, which religious conservatives hope will lead the nation’s top court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
“We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the two dozen Democrats running for president, told the crowd through a megaphone.
Protesters waved signs saying “We won’t be punished” and “Protect Safe, Legal Abortion.”
Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor who also is vying for the 2020 nomination, joined the crowd.
“My entire campaign is about freedom,” he said in a brief interview before taking the podium.
Republican President Donald Trump, an abortion opponent, has also seized on the issue as one likely to fire up his core supporters.
The rally is one of scores being organized nationwide by the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other abortion rights group on Tuesday.
“This nation was built on the backs and grown in the wombs of women, and our rights are not up for debate,” said U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley.
Some of the new laws passed by Republican state legislatures amount to the tightest restrictions on abortion seen in the United States in decades. Alabama passed an outright ban last week, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.
Other states, including Ohio and Georgia, have banned abortions absent a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy or after the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.
Those laws are contrary to the Roe v. Wade ruling, which affords a woman the right to an abortion up to the moment the fetus would be viable outside the womb, which is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.
The bans have been championed by conservatives, many of them Christian, who say fetuses should have rights comparable to those of infants and view abortion as tantamount to murder. The Supreme Court now has a 5-4 conservative majority following two judicial appointments by Trump.
Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott