Over 540 marches, with some in all 50 states, marked the fifth Women’s March with over 120,000 citizens telling lawmakers and the Supreme Court not to take away Americans’ reproductive freedoms.
The movement stated in 2017, when women marched in the millions to protest the policies of Donald Trump, who had just become president.
Since that inaugural march in 2017, the Women’s March has transformed from a moment to a movement, taking what began as a spontaneous protest by everyday women in response to Trump’s rise to power, and transforming it into an organization with a unique ability to respond to and build the power of everyday women.
“Though Trump’s election served as the impetus for Women’s March, the end of his administration does not mean our work is done,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the organization. “Women’s March wasn’t just built to resist – it was built to persist and transform. The activist and political participation we have seen over the past four years sowed seeds for an enduring progressive movement. It’s not enough that Biden has won, democracy needs to win, and there is more work to do to secure that victory.”
“It’s a break-glass moment for us,” said Carmona, who described the Women’s March as leading a mobilization in coordination with numerous reproductive rights organizations.
The first Women’s March of the Biden administration headed straight for the steps of the Supreme Court on Saturday, part of nationwide protests that drew thousands to Washington to demand continued access to abortion in a year when conservative lawmakers and judges have put it in jeopardy.
Demonstrators filled the streets surrounding the court, shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.
Before heading out on the march, they rallied in a square near the White House, waving signs that said “Mind your own uterus,” “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate,” among other messages.
Some wore T-shirts reading simply “1973,” a reference to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal for generations of American women.
Elaine Baijal, a 19-year-old student at American University, said her mother told her of coming to a march for legal abortion with her own mother in the 1970s. “It’s sad that we still have to fight for our right 40 years later. But it’s a tradition I want to continue,” Baijal said of the march.
Organizers say the Washington march was among hundreds of abortion-themed protests held around the country Saturday. The demonstrations took place two days before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court.
“Shame, shame, shame!” marchers chanted while walking past the Trump International Hotel on their way to the Supreme Court. Some booed and waived their fists at the Trump landmark.
In New Jersey, there was a strong showing of support in several local marches and another is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 3 11:00am outside the Keyport police station at West Front Street in Keyport.
When Blackman heard about the Texas abortion bill, she felt anger.
That’s what moved her to host an upcoming Women’s March in Basking Ridge to coincide with hundreds of others around the nation that will focus on reproductive rights this weekend. At least 12 others will take place in the Garden State this weekend, a majority of which will happen on Saturday.
“It’s pretty ridiculous for people coming up with these laws to use religion as a starting point when our whole country is supposed to have separation of church and state,” said Erica Blackman, a mother and grassroots organizer in Basking Ridge. “So I feel very angry that women can be put in jail for something that can affect their health, or their well-being or family.”
Activists in New Jersey are also marching against legislation that has been proposed in other states to limit reproductive rights, including the bill in Texas, where Hollywood heavyweights such as Patricia Arquette have called for a boycott of the state.
Gov. Phil Murphy has been promising that New Jersey lawmakers will vote on a bill that would codify a women’s right to abortion in state law, but that measure has languished in committee since it was introduced almost a year ago.
Murphy critic Lisa McCormick believes the Reproductive Freedom Act is being used as a political football, but she said the Democratic establishment has failed women and justice advocates by ignoring rampant sexual abuse in the state’s prison for women, failing to address racial segregation in schools, and leaving residents vulnerable to 20-year prison sentences for marijuana possession after two-out-of-three voters cast ballots to legalize cannabis.
“New Jersey has had 48 years to catch up with the federal right to privacy and protect women’s rights, so I am not holding my breath,” said McCormick. “The New York Times recently noted that ‘absence of pragmatism among Democrats is as troubling as the absence of principle among Republicans‘ and as a citizen, I refuse to vote for a millionaire who did a poll to learn what I want to hear, then says that while doing whatever the political bosses tell him to do.”
McCormick said while thousands assembled in Washington decrying Texas’s recent ban on most abortions, there were Women’s March events scheduled in Springfield, Morristown, Basking Ridge, Montclair, Cliffside Park, Red Bank, Willingboro, Toms River, Warren, Rio Grande, Keyport and Hoboken.