The Women’s March group is organizing protests across the United States in support of abortion rights: a response to the recent restrictive law passed in Texas.
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Abortion rights advocates will protest in cities across the country tomorrow. Many are feeling deeply uneasy just over a month after Texas enacted the most restrictive abortion law in the country. The Supreme Court is also about to start a new term, during which the conservative majority could significantly curb abortion access. Here’s NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben.
DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: A group of young abortion rights activists from Texas spent their Thursday on Capitol Hill. I met them outside a Senate office building where they had been lobbying Congress members and also making TikToks, which they’ve tried to describe to me.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Like, abortion-themed ones.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Like, funny ones.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Funny ones. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We wanted to do “Rick And Morty” outside, like, Ted Cruz’s office, but we had difficulties finding it.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: “Rick And Morty.”
KURTZLEBEN: H.K. Gray is one of these activists. She’s an advocate and former client of Jane’s Due Process, which helps teenage girls in Texas get abortions. While Gray was helping push for federal abortion protections, she and her friends will also be marching in Saturday’s Rally for Abortion Justice in D.C.
H K GRAY: I think, like, the sheer amount of people that come really makes a statement in itself. And it is a protest. I know everyone says, oh, they don’t really work, but they bring the message across. Also, I brought my daughter to one, and I think it’s a really nice experience, too, if you have young children to bring them there and have them be a part of it.
KURTZLEBEN: Women’s March organized annual protests during Donald Trump’s presidency. The group is helping stage Saturday’s rallies. Here’s executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona.
RACHEL O’LEARY CARMONA: This is a coalition that is, you know, kind of gathering under the hashtag #RallyForAbortionJustice, and Women’s March is playing a particular role inside of that. Obviously, we have, as you know, the “Taken” movies would say, a specific set of skills, you know, that we can stand up a march of this size in four weeks.
KURTZLEBEN: That makes Women’s March one arm of a much bigger political strategy for abortion rights advocates even while it’s not totally clear what their best next steps are. Marva Sadler is director of clinical services at Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen, Texas.
MARVA SADLER: We really thought we were going to get relief from the Supreme Court with this being so blatantly unconstitutional. But what we do next and exactly what happens next – I don’t know that any of us know that yet.
KURTZLEBEN: For her, one basic step is informing patients of their options when they realize they can’t get abortions in their home state.
SADLER: Most of those patients leave there not having a formulated plan of what’s next. But we try to make sure that they have the resources so that, when they can kind of take that breath, that they have everything they need to make that choice.
KURTZLEBEN: There are many efforts right now to help patients in the short term, to help them go out of state and pay for abortions. All that work can make stepping back and thinking about the bigger political picture tough. To Aimee Arrambide, executive director of Texas abortion rights organization AVOW, some on the left got complacent and even shy about fighting for abortion rights.
AIMEE ARRAMBIDE: I think that we’ve allowed abortion stigma to permeate all of progressive actions. People call it women’s health care, reproductive health care. People won’t use the word abortion. Abortion tends to be the rights that get negotiated away when progressives are fighting for, you know, issue areas.
KURTZLEBEN: But she believes progressives need to stay unified in this moment and knows the Texas law is a win for abortion rights opponents.
ARRAMBIDE: While it is galvanizing people that support abortion care, the hope is it’s not too late.
KURTZLEBEN: While advocates are going on offense by pushing for new laws and trying to unseat their opponents, they also acknowledge that defense against other measures is a top priority. A Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks is coming before the Supreme Court this fall. The Supreme Court is where tomorrow’s march in D.C. will end, and it’s also where anti-abortion rights activists will hold their own prayer rally.
Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR News.
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