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Thousands march to Supreme Court for 'Bans Off Our Bodies' abortion rights rally in DC

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 5/15/2022 Heather Graf & 7News Staff
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Thousands of demonstrators marched through the District on Saturday, in support of abortion rights.

The 'Bans Off Our Bodies' rally began at 12:30 p.m. near the Washington Monument, followed by a march to the Supreme Court shortly after 2 p.m. 

Among those who spoke on stage during the rally were Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-California) and DC Council Member Janeese Lewis George.

"DC has a long history of being a pro-choice city.  We believe in a woman's right to choose," George told the crowd.  "We believe abortion is healthcare."

The DC event was planned to coincide with other pro-abortion rights demonstrations in Baltimore, Md., Richmond, Va. and other cities throughout the country.

"We shouldn't have to be doing this anymore," said Candy Romitti, who said she drove from West Virginia to take part in the DC rally.  "The fact that the government thinks they can take our rights away from us, a right that was given to us 50 years ago, is disgusting."

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” events were organized by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Women’s March, MoveOn, UltraViolet, the Liberate Abortion Coalition, and other groups, officials said

"This Saturday, we’re marching to the Supreme Court to show them that abortion access has to be protected and supported – and that we won’t back down," the Women's March tweeted.

There was also a counter protest on Saturday in the District, with Students For Life of America and other anti-abortion activists gathering outside the Supreme Court.

"I feel abortion is wrong because it ends a unique human life that begins at conception," said Lori Cascio with Students For Life of America.  "We hope to see Roe reversed, we hope to see bans across the country in states, we hope to see an end to abortion where it's not just illegal but unthinkable, because there's just so much support out there."

The demonstrations come in the  wake of a leaked draft opinion that suggests Supreme Court justices will soon vote to overturn Roe v. Wade -- the 1973 decision that affirmed the right to abortion access.

RELATED | Chief Justice confirms the authenticity of leaked Roe v. Wade draft, orders investigation

Overturning the ruling would again leave final decisions on abortion access to state governments.

"I'm concerned about the draft opinion, but I am just glad to see so many women, men, and families out here marching, because we have to take America back" said Theresa Dudley, who lives in Prince George's County and took part in Saturday's march in DC.  "They need to keep their hands off our bodies."

When the crowd of pro-abortion rights demonstrators reached the Supreme Court, police worked to keep them separated from anti-abortion demonstrators.  

The two groups at times chanted back and forth, with officers standing between them.

People on both sides of the abortion rights debate told 7News they are prepared to continue ramping up demonstrations in light of the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade.

"You know, when the other side has their message told with this rally, we also want to be visible and a presence for our side of the movement," said Cascio, with Students For Life of America.    "We were very excited to see the draft opinion, we have been waiting for this for years."

While speaking on stage during Saturday's rally, Women's March Executive Director Rachel O'Leary Carmona said it's bigger than just one day of action.

"Today is day one of an uprising to protect abortion rights," she said, calling it an "invigorated movement".  "We won't go back."

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