The Women’s March organization gathers on the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday to “fight for abortion rights” as nearly two dozen states take steps to ban the proceedings after the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade’s two weeks past.
Thousands of protesters began to gather at Franklin Square on Saturday morning before heading to the White House in the afternoon.
The meeting is designed to pressure President Joe Biden and his administration to declare a national public health emergency and take executive action to protect abortion rights, the Women’s March said.
The demonstration comes a day after Biden signed an executive order ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to increase access to abortion pills and protect access to emergency medical care and family planning services, including various types of birth control, it said. White House in a news story. release.
The injunction also aims to protect patient privacy and access to accurate information and promote the safety and security of patients, healthcare providers and clinics, the White House said.
“Yesterday was a good first step, but it’s just that, a first step,” Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, told an excited crowd of protesters on Saturday. “We know there are limits to President Biden’s authority, but we want him to push that authority to its limits.”
A Biden emergency declaration could release additional funds and resources to help local governments meet demand for reproductive health services, according to the Women’s March. It could also open the door for the federal government to allocate additional resources to curb the negative impact of abortion bans in certain states.
On Friday, Louisiana joined nine other states, most in the South, that have banned abortions.
So far, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida have restricted access to abortions, but have not banned the procedure. Eight states are pending abortion bans that could go into effect later this year.
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, one of 21 states where abortion is still legal, took the first step Friday to amend the state constitution, giving voters the choice to declare as early as next year whether abortion should be considered a constitutional right.
Against this backdrop, abortion rights advocates in Washington DC have stepped up efforts to pressure the Biden administration over abortion rights.
Rather than a mass march like the one staged in May in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion quashing Roe, the Women’s March organizers have described Saturday’s demonstrations as a “targeted civil disobedience,” even provide training for participants prior to the event in response to the increased likelihood of arrests.
Hannah Warren traveled from New Jersey on Saturday to participate in the demonstration. She took part in a training session Friday night before joining the crowd outside the White House on Saturday.
“Everyone felt calm. Crazy, angry, furious, yes. But calm,” Warren told NBC News.
After protesters reached the White House amid the rain, many in green bandanas, they began chanting “banned from our bodies” and “stand up Joe Biden.”
A sit-in that lasted about 45 minutes was also set up right in front of the White House gate.
No arrests have been reported until early Saturday afternoon.
Zoe Richards and Jonathan Allen contributed†