WASHINGTON (AP) — Anti-abortion protesters began gathering in the nation’s capital Friday with high morale and a sense that the country has reached a pivotal moment that could lead to a sweeping rollback of abortion rights in many many states.
The March for Life, for decades an annual protest against abortion, comes this year as the Supreme Court has indicated it will allow states to impose tougher abortion restrictions with a ruling within months. to come – and possibly overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion.
“My hopes have been dashed many times, but I’ve never felt like this,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.
The rally, held on the anniversary of the Roe decision, comes amid a surge of COVID-19 that is expected to limit attendance at the National Mall. Some abortion opponents posted on the event’s Facebook page that they will not be attending due to COVID-19 vaccination mandates for people visiting restaurants and other places in the District of Columbia.
The pandemic hasn’t dampened the optimism of a resurgent anti-abortion movement that sees a new Texas law banning most abortions as a sign of things to come, and who say they’re not done fight for restrictions even if the conservative majority of the Supreme Court rules in their favor later this year.
At least 26 states are in line to further limit abortion access if Roe is weakened or overthrown, according to abortion rights groups. In December, the court indicated in a landmark case that it would uphold a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and allow states to ban abortions even earlier. The Mississippi affair directly concerns Roe.
For months, courts have handed Texas abortion providers a string of defeats to block a law that since September has banned abortions once heart activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks. and before some women know they are pregnant. Another loss for Texas clinics came on Thursday, when the Supreme Court declined to expedite an ongoing challenge to the law, which providers say is now expected to remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
“This law is cruel and unconstitutional, and I am deeply disappointed that our justice system has done very little to stop it,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs four abortion clinics in Texas.
The Supreme Court was remade by three nominees for former President Donald Trump, who in 2020 became the first sitting president to address the March for Life. The schedule for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris did not include any Friday events related to the march.
Lawmakers from both parties weighed in Friday to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and reflect on the changing political landscape surrounding abortion.
“This has been an eye-opening year for the cause of life in America, and we have made significant progress in standing up for our youngest and most vulnerable,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader.
“The stakes are higher than ever, with the health and autonomy of women and families across the country hanging in the balance as Republicans work methodically to challenge and unseat Roe,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H. “It’s time to sound the alarm and clarify: the decisions about our bodies, our health care and our future are ours.”
Democrats and abortion providers say if Roe is unseated, they expect opponents to tighten restrictions on access to abortion drugs by mail.
“As far as what the Republicans are planning, I wouldn’t discount anything. There’s almost an excitement, a kind of giddy about them,” said Arizona Democratic State Senator Rebecca Rios.
Mississippi State Senator Joey Fillingane, a Republican who has lobbied for the state’s tough abortion laws, said he was unable to attend the March for Freedom. life in Washington, but that he was happy that he and two GOP colleagues were recognized there. Mississippi has only one abortion clinic, and Fillingane said the state should target access to abortion-inducing drugs next.
If Roe is overturned, Fillingane said he expects states to take different approaches to establishing their own abortion laws.
“I think that’s how it should be,” he said. “The laws in California, based on their population and what they want, can be very different from the laws in Mississippi depending on what our population thinks about the question of life.”