Thousands are expected to march through downtown D.C. in support of abortion rights Saturday afternoon, nearly two weeks after a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court to be on the brink of upending a decades-old legal precedent for abortion access.
The Women’s March and Planned Parenthood, together with several other women’s rights and progressive advocacy groups, including UltraViolet and MoveOn, will lead marchers from the Washington Monument to the Supreme Court. Saturday’s march will mark the latest in a wave of street protests sparked almost immediately after Politico published a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade and limit abortion access in more than half the states.
Gigantic banner reading “our bodies, our futures, our abortions” being unfurled across the National Mall in advance of an abortion rights march on the Supreme Court planned this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/1VaudGcgbU
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) May 14, 2022
It might also prove the largest yet: According to a permit from the National Park Service, organizers expect around 17,000 attendees for the flagship event of what the Women’s March calls a nationwide “bans off our bodies” day of action, with concurrent sister rallies planned across the country.
One person, who gave her name as Gigi, from Tennessee, said she came to D.C. on Saturday for the march due to her dissatisfaction with the shape of the Supreme Court.
“We can’t stand back any longer, this is vital to the future of our country,” she said.
Another woman, Catherine, from Texas, said she came to the source of power in the U.S. because those in her state will not support women’s rights. She said she felt “horror and dismay” when she saw the news of the draft opinion two weeks ago. She noted she is an active protester in Dallas.
Demonstrators gathering for a noon rally for abortion rights on the Washington Monument grounds to be followed by a March to the Supreme Court @wtop pic.twitter.com/rEHHLu2tfl
— Dick Uliano (@DickUliano) May 14, 2022
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Spontaneous protests spanning from hundreds to several thousand erupted the night of the leak and continued last weekend. This week saw smaller protests outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices in the suburbs of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
“Losing the right to abortion has consequences. Women will pay the price.” Women’s March executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona said in a news release previewing Saturday’s event. “We can stop this tragedy, and the time is now. We will get up and fight, like women have throughout history — for the most basic right. The right to be treated as human. And we won’t let anyone stop us. All of our rights and all of our futures are at stake.”
What you need to know now:
Expect road closures
WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez saw Pennsylvania Ave. NW and Constitution Ave. NW closed just after 10 a.m. stretching from the east side of the White House toward the central part of the National Mall. Police warned of road closures and parking restrictions in the vicinity of the National Mall and Capitol Hill, advising drivers to avoid downtown and consider Metrorail as an alternative.
Alvarez noted that there are more events in downtown D.C. than just the march.
“There’s a lot of stuff happening downtown, today,” he noted.
March begins at 2 p.m.
Marchers will gather beneath the Washington Monument at noon in the District and hear from speakers including Rep. Barbara Lee of California, SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry and Laphonza Butler of EMILY’s List. Also slated to speak are Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis George and NeeNee Taylor, a local Black Lives Matter activist and co-founder of Harriet’s Wildest Dreams.
Demonstrators will set out around 2 p.m. for the Supreme Court, headed east on Constitution Avenue from the National Mall. D.C.
By about noon, Alvarez surveyed signs on display and said the crowd numbered in the hundreds.
Events throughout the nation
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.
StormTeam4’s Michelle Grossman says to look out for possible showers, but do not worry about a washout. It will be cloudy and humid throughout Saturday. The highs will only be in the 70s with a chance of showers in the afternoon.
WTOP will have coverage of the event online and on the air throughout the day. Listen to updates online or on the air at 103.5 FM.
WTOP’s Dan Friedell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.