Seventeen members of Congress were among 35 people arrested by U.S. Capitol Police at an abortion rights rally near the front of the Supreme Court building, where less than one month the conservative Republican majority issued a ruling that reversed Roe v. Wade.
Among the 17 representatives arrested were Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Jan Schakowsky of Illinois; Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania; Cori Bush of Missouri; Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velazquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Alma Adams of North Carolina; Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier and Sara Jacobs of California; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.
Wearing specially-made green bandanas with “Won’t Back Down,” the congresswomen marched from the Capitol to the Supreme Court, which has been fenced off since shortly after the leak of the draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
The United States Capitol Police (USCP) issued a released saying officers arrested 35 people for blocking First Street, NE, near the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The group of demonstrators went into the street around 1:15 p.m.,” said the USCP statement. “It is against the law to block traffic, so officers gave the demonstrators three standard warnings to get out of the street. When the demonstrators refused to get out of the street, the officers arrested them for Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding (DC Code § 22–1307).”
Rather than engage in publicity stunts, New Jersey women’s rights activist Lisa McCormick called on President Joe Biden to create abortion clinics on federal land, after the Supreme Court removed federal abortion protections that had been in place since 1973.
McCormick also said the Food and Drug Administration should permit the over-the-counter sale of mifepristone and misoprostol, widely known as abortion pills.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is a devastating blow for women that is about more than abortion – it’s about personal choice, freedom, and access to health care,” said McCormick. “It’s about our right to choose if or when we’re ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood.”
McCormick has been critical of Democrats in Congress, who failed to make the federal protection of privacy rights guaranteed by law despite having opportunities over the past 50 years.
“Right now, the United States of America is a country where men in power have decided that a 10-year-old rape victim can’t get an abortion,” said McCormick. “It’s the same Taliban-style tyranny they have in Afghanistan — where women have no rights and religious zealots make the rules for everyone else.”
“Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski introduced legislation in February that would enshrine the important Roe and Casey protections into law, and Congress should have approved it,” said McCormick, acknowledging that the GOP bill lacks a number of provisions with which she concurs. “The perfect is the enemy of the good, and this terrible tragedy is a great fundraising gimmick for Nancy Pelosi but I don’t want girls to die so politicians can raise more money.”
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill for the first time ever before Congress, an abortion rights advocate described how to self-manage the procedure using abortion pills, giving a highly public platform to the safe, effective method of ending a pregnancy.
Renee Bracey Sherman, the founder of abortion storytelling group We Testify, explained in plain terms how to take the medication and told committee members that when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she became desperate.
“It is one mifepristone pill followed by four misoprostol pills dissolved under the tongue 24 to 48 hours later, or a series of 12 misoprostol pills, four at a time, dissolved under the tongue every three hours,” Bracey Sherman said. “There’s no way to test it in the blood stream and a person doesn’t need to tell police what they took.”
In the days leading up to her appointment to get an abortion, Bracey Sherman said she considered trying to induce a miscarriage by throwing herself down a flight of stairs, “as I had seen in the movies or in history books.”
Now that Roe has been overturned, Bracey Sherman says she fears that pregnant women may resort to dangerous ways that people used to end their pregnancies before abortion became legal.
“It is one mifepristone pill, followed by four misoprostol pills, dissolved under the tongue, 24 to 48 hours later,” said Bracey Sherman in testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Or, a series of 12 misoprostol pills, four at a time, dissolved under the tongue, every three hours. There’s no way to test it in the bloodstream, and a person doesn’t need to tell the police what they took.”
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), chairman of the committee, recently helped secure passage of two bills that would protect the federal right to an abortion.
“The court’s ideological decision ignored nearly 50 years of precedent and is the culmination of decades of unrelenting efforts by Republican politicians to deny women’s right to choose an abortion,” said Pallone, who insisted that all Americans – regardless of where they live – should have the right to an abortion.