HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Demonstrators facing down a Supreme Court decision that could overturn the constitutional right to abortion are aiming to use rallies from coast to coast Saturday to express their outrage and to mobilize for the fight ahead.
More than 380 events were set from Maine to Hawaii, with the largest gatherings expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other big cities, organizers said.
In the nation's capital, activists planned to gather at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by a security fence.
Tens of thousands of people were expected at the "Bans off our Bodies" events, providing an outlet for anger and frustration for abortion rights activists after a leaked draft Supreme Court ruling suggested Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
Norfolk and Virginia Beach both held rallies Saturday.
“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.
Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion - at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy - but the Supreme Court appeared to be poised to let the states have the final say.
If that happens, roughly half of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.
Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are ready to ban abortion. She said she might not be alive today if she had not had a legal abortion when she was 15.
“I was already starting to self harm and I would have rather died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.
The upcoming high court ruling in a case from Mississippi stands to energize voters, potentially shaping the upcoming midterm elections.
Kimmons, 46, said she believes the focus needs to be on those races. “We have to vote in pro-choice politicians because women’s lives depend on it,” she said.
Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse, agreed about the need to vote.
“As much as federal elections, voting in every small election matters just as much,” said Nyquist, who wheeled her 1-year-old daughter in a stroller and held her 3-year-old daughter's hand while walking to the Chicago rally.
Saturday's rallies were being held three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included the Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organizations.