Thousands of protesters hit the streets on Tuesday in nationwide rallies to support abortion rights following recent legislative efforts to ban most abortions in several states.
More than 500 demonstrations had been planned for noon, local time, at statehouses, town squares and courthouses in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Ottawa, Canada, as part of the National Day of Action to Stop the Bans.
Supporting demonstrations were also planned in Italy, India and Brussels, according to the event’s website.
“Across the country, we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access,” the event’s website says. “Politicians shouldn’t be making decisions best left to women, their families, and their doctors.”
Tuesday’s flagship event kicked off in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., with various speakers, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
“We are here to say enough is enough. We’re going to fight you and we’re going to win,” Klobuchar shouted into a megaphone while surrounded by placards promoting reproductive rights.
“This is a matter, my friends, of civil rights,” she said. “We cannot allow them to move this country backward.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) also took the microphone and criticized recent legislation that aims to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which protects abortion rights.
“They’re not just wrong ― they are cruel, they are extreme and they are designed to control women’s decisions and criminalize doctors,” Murray said of the wave of new state laws. “They make it harder for women to plan families and be economically secure.”
Other 2020 candidates attending the event included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
More than 50 organizations partnered for the event, including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Catholics for Choice, the Center for American Progress, the Women’s March and the Sierra Club.
“Politicians, take notice: If you come for our reproductive freedom, you’ll have to get through ALL of us,” the ACLU said in a Tuesday tweet that shared a map showing some of the day’s planned protests. The post also included the event’s social media hashtag, #stopthebans.
At a rally in New York’s Foley Square, protester Scott Stringer told HuffPost that New York should become the first city to directly fund abortion care.
“Abortion is health care and abortion is a fundamental right,” Stringer said. “We need to put our money where our mouth is. There’s more that government can do.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who recently announced his 2020 presidential candidacy, said at the rally that “it’s a small group of right-wing extremists who are trying to ignore that American majority ... but we are not going back, are we?”
The rallies were organized after Alabama’s governor last Wednesday signed the nation’s strictest anti-abortion law, which would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in nearly all cases, including rape and incest.
Then last Friday, Missouri passed a bill that would ban abortions ― including for women who had conceived from rape or incest ― after eight weeks, which is often before women know they’re pregnant. Gov. Mike Parson (R) has said he will sign that bill into law.
Georgia and Ohio have also passed so-called “heartbeat” bills that would prohibit an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This is typically as early as six weeks into pregnancy and, again, before most women know they’re pregnant.
Across the nation, protesters staged demonstrations in their own cities, and events are planned for later this week as well.
Check out photos from various rallies throughout the country below.
Amanda Terkel contributed reporting from Washington, D.C., and Emma Gray contributed reporting from New York City.