Marches Across US Mark Roe as Battle Shifts to States

Demonstrations follow gathering of abortion opponents in Washington
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2023 4:15 PM CST
Marches Across US Mark Roe as Battle Shifts to States
Jessica Dils, left, and Wendy Penner attend a rally supporting abortion rights Sunday in Pittsfield, Mass.   (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

Women's marches demanding abortion rights drew thousands of people across the country on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established federal protections for the procedure. Organizers focused on states after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe in June unleashed abortion restrictions and near-total bans in more than a dozen states. "We are going to where the fight is, and that is at the state level," reads the website for the Women's March. Freshly galvanized anti-abortion activists are increasingly setting their sights on Congress with the aim of pushing for national abortion restrictions, the AP reports. Tens of thousands of them gathered Friday in Washington, DC, for the annual March for Life—the first to be held since Roe was overturned.

The abortion rights group has dubbed this year's rallies "Bigger than Roe." The main march was held in Wisconsin, where upcoming state Supreme Court elections could determine the court's power balance and future abortion rights. But rallies were held in dozens of cities, including Florida's state capital of Tallahassee, where Vice President Kamala Harris gave a fiery speech before a boisterous crowd. "Can we truly be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about the course of their own lives?" Harris said. In Madison, thousands of abortion rights supporters marched in below-freezing temperatures through downtown to the state Capitol. "It's just basic human rights at this point," said Alaina Gato, a Wisconsin resident who joined her mother, Meg Wheeler, on the Capitol steps.

The march drew counterprotestors. Most held signs raising religious objections to abortion rights. "I don't really want to get involved with politics. I'm more interested in what the law of God says," John Goeke, a Wisconsin resident, said. Women's rallies were expected to be held in nearly every state on Sunday. The eldest daughter of Norma McCorvey, whose legal challenge under the pseudonym "Jane Roe" led to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, was scheduled to attend the rally in Long Beach, California. Melissa Mills said it was her first Women's March. "It's just unbelievable that we're here again, doing the same thing my mom did," she told the AP. "We've lost 50 years of hard work."

(More abortion debate stories.)

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