Demonstrators marched by the thousands on Saturday on the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in Houston, in New York, and cities across the United States to protest increasing state restrictions on abortion and advocate for maintaining a constitutional right to the procedure.
The 660 demonstrations around the United States were largely sparked by a Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The measure, which went into effect last month, is the most restrictive in the country.
In the Texas hundreds gathered to denounce the so-called “heartbeat” law signed by Governor Greg Abbott. It bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo, usually around six weeks. That is before most women know they are pregnant and earlier than 85% to 90% of all abortions are carried out, experts say.
The law relies on ordinary citizens to enforce the ban, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, rewarding them at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an illegal abortion.
If the court overturns the precedent, abortion access would no longer by protected by the Constitution, leaving states free to ban it, limit it or allow it without restrictions.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision on Sept. 1, already denied a request from abortion and women’s health providers to block enforcement of the Texas law.
Abortion rights advocates and the U.S. Justice Department have challenged the Texas law in state and federal courts, arguing that it violates Roe v. Wade.
A federal judge in Austin on Friday heard the Justice Department’s request to block the law temporarily while its constitutionality is challenged.
(Video Go Nakamura, Jeenah Moon; Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)