Thousands turn out nationwide in marches for abortion rights
Demonstrators at the Women's March in Washington, Saturday, June 24, 2023. Abortion rights and anti-abortion activists held rallies Saturday in Washington and across the country to call attention to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022, which upended the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. | Stephanie Scarbrough / AP

WASHINGTON—Thousands of women and their supporters, including 2,500 who marched on the U.S. Supreme Court, hit the streets on June 24 to again march for abortion rights, marking the full year since the court’s right-wing Republican-named five-justice majority eliminated that right nationwide.

Mobilized by the Women’s March, the campaigners not only denounced last year’s ruling in the Dobbs case, which Justice Samuel Alito used for his 5-4 decision, but also promised retribution against politicians who oppose abortion—and who put those justices on the bench.

And groups of marchers, both on June 24 and in their announcements of future events, warned the removal of the constitutional right to abortion is only a prelude to the justices taking away other rights, too. The repeated refrain was “This fight is bigger than Roe,” the 1973 pro-abortion decision which the court majority tossed out last year.

“SCOTUS, we’ve got our eyes on you. You’re on notice: We won’t let you destroy our democracy and take away our rights,” Women’s March Executive Director Rachel O’Leary Carmona warned.

“A fight for abortion rights is a proxy fight for democracy.”

Though the High Court and the constitutional right to abortion was the focus on the marchers, whose campaigns continued in other cities even after June 24, and running all the way through Independence Day, other causes got support, too, specifically LGBTQ rights and the week-long Starbucks workers’ strike over that issue, too.

“I’m not crossing that picket line” of Starbucks workers “and neither should you,” Carmona told marchers.

A June 26 parade and rally for LGBTQ rights was scheduled for noon in Manhattan, preceded by a combined women’s march and gay pride parade June 24 in Anchorage, Alaska.

“The GOP is coming for a total abortion ban, we all know it,” Carmona declared. “Trump, DeSantis, & Pence all believe the same thing: Women shouldn’t be able to control their bodies,” she said, referring to three leading contenders for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, former Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, his former VP, Mike Pence, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Doesn’t matter who the nominee is, women will turn out and kick their ass next year. That’s a promise.”

Carmona elaborated in a pre-march two-minute podcast with host Dean Obeidallah on Sirius XM radio: “Most policymakers, mostly Republicans at this point, who are misaligned so greatly with the people, are at great risk of having the pendulum swing back at them,” she said, citing opinion polls. The polls say 87% of the U.S. believes abortion should be legal, although many favor restrictions late in pregnancy.

“It has been 1 year since our reproductive freedom was taken away!” the CoVA Coalition tweeted before the first of two rallies—this one on June 25 for gay rights—at the Norfolk, Va., courthouse.

“Let’s make some noise that this is not acceptable and we won’t let politicians forget about it! Only 13% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal under all circumstances,” group declared before its second event, entitled Post-Dobbs Rally: 365 Days Without Rights scheduled for June 29.

Want to do more damage

Alabama’s ruling Republicans apparently want to go even further than the justices did, Alabama Values Progress warned before a planned June 30 women’s rights rally in Huntsville.

“Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, introduced a bill, HB454, eliminating a section in the homicide code preventing prosecutors from charging women for homicide for having an abortion, the group said.

“If HB454 becomes law, it would legally mandate that someone be charged with murder for having a miscarriage. This is not only medically inaccurate but also cruel and unjust,” said its executive director, Anneshia Hardy. “The consequences of HB454 would be far-reaching and devastating.

“It would perpetuate a culture of fear and stigma around women’s reproductive health, discouraging them from seeking the vital healthcare services they need. HB454 undermines the principles of compassion, empathy, and respect for human rights that should guide our society.”

“We will mobilize to let partisan extremists know that we will not let democracy die; we’re not done fighting,” the group vowed. “We will mobilize to let authoritarians know that we will not allow protest or freedom of speech to be eradicated in our country.

Our fight is bigger than Roe. We are fighting for nothing less than democracy itself. We are not done fighting. And together, WE WILL WIN!”

The Women’s March and ERA/EQUAL MEANS EQUAL planned a joint July 1 rally at MLK Park in Indianapolis.

“This country is in a state of emergency,” they warned. ‘The ‘good ol’ boys’ are doing whatever they can to consolidate their power, control our bodies, silence our voices and enable our abusers. Immunity/ impunity protected judges are blatantly disregarding the law–the very laws they base their public image on, yet pulverize in practice, i.e.: GASLIGHTING from the tippy-top top down– granting them virtually limitless authority to dismantle our rights even further.

“Legislators are going beyond gerrymandering and voter suppression to criminalizing our right to protest. So on July 1st, wherever we are, we will mobilize to let the world know that we’re still fighting. We are STILL the resistance. And we won’t go back.

“We will not allow protest or freedom of speech to be killed. We will not become bystanders while the most vulnerable among us are targeted by the most powerful. we will not stand by and become accomplices to our own skyrocketing death toll.

“This struggle is bigger than Roe. We are not done fighting. And together, we will win.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.