Hundreds of marches take place nationwide as protesters decry ‘unprecedented attack’ on reproductive rights

 Christine Fernando, Savannah Behrmann and Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY 4 hrs agoLike|1Thousands in Brazil protest Bolsonaro, seek his impeachmentSpace exploration: What does the future hold?

WASHINGTON – Protesters gathered in support of reproductive rights Saturday at hundreds of Women’s March protests nationwide. The marches came a month after a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy took effect.Women rights activists participate in the annual Women’s March as they pass by the U.S. Supreme Court October 2, 2021 in Washington, DC.© Alex Wong, Getty Images Women rights activists participate in the annual Women’s March as they pass by the U.S. Supreme Court October 2, 2021 in Washington, DC.

In Washington’s Rally for Abortion Justice, a crowd of protesters gathered Saturday around a banner proclaiming “Bans off our bodies!” as Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” blasted from speakers. 

A baby in a stroller nibbled at a sign saying “I can’t believe I’m a baby and I have to protest already,” and volunteers passed out masks with “I march for abortion access” on them.

Teresa Hamlin from Chesapeake, Virginia, said it’s “unbelievable that we have to be back out here.”

“I did this in the ’70s and ’60s and now we’re back out again,” Hamlin said. “It breaks my heart, but they’ve kicked the hornet’s nest, and we’re not going back”'We will not go quietly': Women's March organizes over 500 marches nationwide for reproductive rights© Provided by USA TODAY ‘We will not go quietly’: Women’s March organizes over 500 marches nationwide for reproductive rights

In Texas, Democrat Mike Collier, who is running for lieutenant governor, joined protesters, tweeting “men need to shut up, sit down, and listen.”

In addition to the Texas law, the possibility of other states passing similar legislation and a Mississippi challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision have created an “unprecedented attack” on reproductive freedoms, said Women’s March executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona.

“For a long time, groups of us were ringing the alarm bell around abortion access and many of us were told we were hysterical and Roe v. Wade will never be overturned,” Carmona said. “But now it’s clear that our fears were both rational and proportional.”

The Supreme Court in September declined to block Texas’ abortion law – a move the Women’s March said “effectively took the next step towards overturning Roe v. Wade,” according to its website. The marches were planned ahead of the Supreme Court reconvening Monday.

More than 400 protesters gathered for a march in Savannah, Georgia. Melissa Nadia Viviana, co-organizer of the march, said the message she wanted to communicate is that women need to have control of their bodies and their future. a group of people holding a sign posing for the camera: 'Decisive moment': Abortion rights groups appeal to Supreme Court to uphold Roe amid Texas ban fallout© Provided by USA TODAY ‘Decisive moment’: Abortion rights groups appeal to Supreme Court to uphold Roe amid Texas ban fallout

“It’s the only way we can spread equality throughout this country, so there’s no going back to having other people make decisions for our uterus in the 21st century,” Viviana said. “We cannot progress at the same level as men if we don’t have control of our reproductive freedom.”

In Indianapolis, hundreds protested the Texas law and worried about a ripple effect felt closer to home. Some dressed as handmaids from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and 27-year-old Van Wijk dressed as the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Indiana has passed laws restricting abortion access over the last few years. The laws have been both upheld and overturned by various courts, but the state Legislature has not definitively outlined any next steps. a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Mississippi to file arguments in landmark abortion case© Provided by The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson) Mississippi to file arguments in landmark abortion case

Republicans in the state, including House Speaker Todd Huston, say they are “closely watching” the Texas ban and they will “continue to examine ways to further protect life at all stages.”

“I think right now, compared to recent years, this is a very frightening moment,” Karen Celestino-Horseman, one of the Indianapolis rally organizers, told the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1444317847224786947&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Fnation%2F2021%2F10%2F02%2Fwomens-march-returns-rally-abortion-justice-begins-washington%2F5944488001%2F&sessionId=29a07581017648ad6393d6f70ee710f7de792709&theme=light&widgetsVersion=fcb1942%3A1632982954711&width=550px

People are starting to gather at the D.C. #RallyForAbortionJustice. We rally at Freedom Plaza at noon — hope to see you soon! pic.twitter.com/gl4gmSFMiS— Women’s March (@womensmarch) October 2, 2021

The marches have drawn opposition for years from conservatives who say the Women’s March doesn’t represent the views of all women. Among the critics of this year’s march was Jeanne Mancini, president of an anti-abortion group called March for Life.

Smaller groups of counterprotesters showed up at some of the demonstrations. In Washington, about 100 anti-abortion protesters met marchers near the Supreme Court. Blasting Christian rock, they yelled “abortion is murder,” prompting the marchers to respond: “abortion is health care.”

In Ocala, Florida, anti-abortion protesters stood opposite an intersection from the pro-abortion rights group. Police were on scene to intervene between the opposing demonstrators, who sometimes crossed the road and engaged in disagreements.

Carmona called the abortion rights marches a “coalition effort” with the Women’s March partnering with more than 90 other organizations, including Planned Parenthood, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice and the Working Families Party.

“This is a moment to consolidate our movements and to demonstrate to policymakers and to the Supreme Court that we will not go quietly, that this is going to be a fight,” Carmona said.

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

Contributing: Austin Miller, The Ocala Star-Banner; Laura Nwogu, Savannah Morning News; Rashika Jaipuriar, Indianapolis Star

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hundreds of marches take place nationwide as protesters decry ‘unprecedented attack’ on reproductive rights

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