Activists rally as U.S. Supreme Court hears high-stakes abortion case
By Gabriella Borter, Julia Harte and Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Carrying signs and playing music, hundreds of people favoring and opposing abortion rights staged dueling rallies in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as the nine justices prepared to hear arguments in a case that could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
The groups stood close together and tried to yell over each other. Abortion rights activists chanted, “What do we want? Abortion access. When do we want it? Now.” Anti-abortion protesters held huge signs reading “abortion is murder,” some carrying Christian crosses and others playing Christian music.
The justices will consider Mississippi’s bid to revive a Republican-backed 2018 state law, blocked by lower courts, banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Jen Rudolph, 52, and her daughter Ella, 17, drove four hours from Raleigh, North Carolina, to join the rally for abortion rights.
“We’re here to be part of this crowd and support Roe v. Wade,” Jen Rudolph said. “Republicans get abortions, Democrats get abortions. It’s a healthcare right.”
J.C. Carpenter, 49, drove from Marysville, California, to voice her opposition to abortion.
“I think Roe needs to be abolished. It was one of the biggest mistakes our country ever made,” Carpenter said. “I am feeling optimistic,” she added.
At noon, about 60 pro-choice activists will engage in an act of “civil disobedience” outside the courthouse, according to one of the participants, Heidi Sieck, the CEO and co-founder of #VOTEPROCHOICE, a voter mobilization project dedicated to electing candidates who support abortion access.
Sieck said the group will “engage in radical self-expression” with signs, songs and costumes, and that they plan to sit in the streets until forced to move, which could run afoul of local laws against blocking city streets to traffic.
“If that does include an arrest, so be it,” Sieck said on Tuesday.
The fact that the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, agreed to hear the Mississippi case does “not bode well” for advocates of abortion rights, Sieck said.
Anti-abortion activists rallying outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday also expected the justices to limit abortion access.
“The fact that four justices decided to even hear the case tells you that they want to do something about abortion and Roe v. Wade, whether that means a full overturn or some kind of degrading of it,” said Mark Harrington, the president of anti-abortion group Created Equal, in an interview on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Will Dunham and Stephen Coates)