emonstrations were being held across the US on Saturday in protest against moves by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, which legalised abortion nationwide.
Abortion rights groups organised more than 400 ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ marches in what was called the start of a “summer of rage”, if the court does vote to overturn the landmark ruling.
The largest turnouts were expected in New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The demonstrations come after a bombshell leak earlier this month of a draft opinion which showed the court was set to overturn the 1973 ruling. The court’s final decision, which could yet change, is expected in June.
About half of US states could ban or severely restrict abortion if the country’s top court votes to overturn Roe v Wade.
Organisers said they expected hundreds of thousands of people to attend the events, pledging more co-ordinated protests around the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“For the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage,” said Rachel Carmona, president of Women’s March.
“We will be ungovernable until this government starts working for us, until the attacks on our bodies let up, until the right to an abortion is codified into law.”
Several thousand people began amassing in a Chicago park on Saturday morning for a pro-choice protest, including US Representative Sean Casten and his 15-year-old daughter, Audrey.
Mr Casten, whose district includes Chicago’s western suburbs, told the Reuters news agency it was a “horrible” that the conservative-majority Supreme Court would consider taking away the right to an abortion and “condemn women to this lesser status.”
Demonstrators in New York plan to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, while protesters in Washington will meet at the Washington Monument and then head to the Supreme Court.
Los Angeles protesters planned to meet at City Hall, and a group in Austin was to convene at Texas’ state capitol.
In the past week, protesters have gathered outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, who have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to the leaked opinion.
Speaking on Friday, Justice Clarence Thomas said at a conference in Dallas that trust within the court was “gone forever” following the leak.
“When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally,” the conservative justice said.
Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion advocacy group with campus chapters across the country, said it was holding counter protests on Saturday in nine cities, including in Washington.