Thousands in US join protests against abortion rights ahead of election

Thousands marched in cities across the United States on Saturday to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of the federal right to abortion and urge voters to get into a Democratic “blue wave” in next month’s key midterm elections.

In Washington, a crowd of mostly women chanted “We’re not going back” as they marched.

They carried posters calling for a “feminist tsunami” and urging people to “vote to save women’s rights.”

“I don’t want to go back to another time,” Emily Bobal, an 18-year-old college student, told AFP.

“It’s a bit ridiculous that we still have to do this in 2022,” she said, adding that she’s concerned that the conservative-dominated Supreme Court would then target same-sex marriage.

“Most of us are ready to go out and fight for democracy and fight for the physical autonomy of people, women and men,” said Kimberly Allen, 70.

As Democrats battle to maintain their limited control of Congress, the midterm elections could have a decisive impact on the future of such rights, she said.

Several protesters wore bracelets or scarves of green, a color that symbolizes the right to abortion.

Others wore blue — the color of the Democratic Party — and carried huge flags and banners calling for a symbolic “blue wave” of voters to head to the polls on Nov. 8.

A few counter-protesters made their presence known, some of them urging the crowd to “find Jesus Christ”, while others shouted that “abortion is murder”. They were greeted with booing.

Similar gatherings took place in cities such as New York and Denver, Colorado.

“The #WomensWave is coming for ANY anti-abortion politician, wherever they live,” Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the nonprofit Women’s March, said on Twitter.

She urged people to elect “more women” as well as male candidates who support abortion rights.

Polls show Democrats have only a slim chance of retaining control of the House of Representatives, but their chances are better in the evenly divided Senate, where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris is the deciding vote.

While Republicans largely campaign for rising prices, immigration problems and urban crime, Democrats led by President Joe Biden want to shift the debate to abortion rights and the defense of American democracy.

In June, the Supreme Court overturned decades-long federal protections for abortion rights, leaving individual states to set their own rules.

Since then, several Republican-led states have banned or severely restricted access to the procedure, raising a range of legal challenges.

In the latest development, an appeals court in the southwestern state of Arizona on Friday — at least for now — blocked an almost complete ban on abortions.

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