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Crowds of Abortion Rights Supporters Rally, March to Supreme Court

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 5/14/2022 Sophia Barnes
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What to Know

  • The Bans Off Our Bodies protest and march to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., is happening Saturday afternoon.
  • Parking restrictions and street closures are expected; attendees are encouraged to take Metro.
  • Speakers include U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who has opened up about getting an abortion as a teen.

Large crowds of reproductive rights advocates marched to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Saturday to demand legal protections for anyone seeking an abortion.

The Bans Off Our Bodies demonstration was expected to draw up to 17,000 people to the Washington Monument, according to a federal permit, and more than 350 companion protests are planned nationwide.

It’s in reaction to a leaked draft opinion that indicates Supreme Court justices are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that affirmed a constitutional right to access abortions.

Throngs of people, many carrying signs reading "bans off our bodies," began marching about 2 p.m. to the Supreme Court building, which is surrounded by high fencing.

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar on it and a necklace that spelled out “vote.”

“I think that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr told the Associated Press.

The march followed a rally near the Washington Monument where speakers advocated for legislators to put the protections from Roe into law.

Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, took the stage first and said that abortion rights are under attack.

"We are here because these folks are trying to kick us out of the constitution and take away a constitutional right we've had for the last 50 years," Robinson said. "We are here to show them that we are the majority."

Anti-abortion protesters were also gathered at the Supreme Court. One demonstrator said, "We are against elective abortion, the direct killing of the unborn. And that's common sense."

D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George spoke about concerns about abortion rights in the District if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.

“All my life, I have seen Republicans in Congress step into our affairs and impose their will on D.C. residents. They have already banned us from using our funds our own funds on abortion care, locking low-income women from receiving the care,” George said.

“So we know that if Roe is overturned, they will come for us by moving to ban abortion in the District of Columbia,” she continued.

Activist and organizer Tamika Middleton was one of the participants who said the march would not only focus on reproductive rights, out of concern that the end of Roe v. Wade could signal the beginning of the end for other liberties.

"We already see the attempts to erode the rights of trans folks. We already see folks preparing to erode the civil liberties of LGBTQ folks and other kinds of rights," she said.

Other speakers on the schedule included U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who has opened up about terminating a pregnancy as a teen, local activists and national organizers.

Crowds converged around a stage with a large “bans off our bodies” banner near the National Museum of African American History and Culture Saturday morning.

Activists laid a massive, pink banner near the Washington Monument. White letters as tall as people spelled out: "Our bodies, our abortions."

Many demonstrators wore shirts reading, "Our bodies, our futures, our abortions," or carried signs.

The protest is scheduled to wrap up about 4 p.m.

The Bans Off Our Bodies march route © Provided by NBC Washington D.C. The Bans Off Our Bodies march route

D.C. police said to expect street closures in the National Mall area.

The rally was organized by a coalition of groups including Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and MoveOn.

What are the road closures and no parking zones?

D.C. police say drivers may encounter street closures and no parking zones, but hadn’t released a full list by Friday morning.

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