Protesters Gather in US Cities in Support of Abortion Rights

Protesters are gathering in cities across the United States to demonstrate against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule a constitutional right to abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

The ruling by the court leaves it to states to decide whether to allow abortions, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had guaranteed women a right to an abortion in the initial stages of pregnancy.

Crowds gathered in New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles, among other cities.

One person was hit by a truck in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday during a protest.  The victim’s injuries were minor, police said.  

Hundreds of protesters in New York City chanted “Overturn Roe, hell, no” and “Rise up for abortion rights.”

In Washington, both supporters and opponents of abortion rights began gathering outside the Supreme Court building after the court made its announcement Friday.

The crowd is expected to increase in size throughout the weekend.

A group of Democratic lawmakers addressed abortion-rights demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, with progressive U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chanting “into the streets.”

Abortion-rights opponents cheered Friday’s ruling, dancing, playing music and chanting “Goodbye, Roe.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city’s chief of police is working with federal authorities to “make sure that people have the ability to exercise their First Amendment rights [to demonstrate] safely.”

Meanwhile, Washington’s local police department announced Friday that its force has been fully activated.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged Americans on Friday to remain peaceful when protesting the Supreme Court decision.

While he said he knows many Americans are “frustrated and disillusioned,” he said violence must be avoided.

“Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form, regardless of your rationale,” he said.

Department of Homeland Security officials warned in a new, updated analysis obtained by VOA that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) will likely seek to exploit the Supreme Court ruling “to intensify violence against a wide range of targets.”

“We expect violence could occur for weeks following the release, particularly as DVEs may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision,” according to the analysis. “We base this assessment on an observed increase in violent incidents across the United States following the unauthorized disclosure in May of a draft majority opinion on the case.”

Friday’s ruling came less than two months after an early draft of the court’s opinion was leaked to a news site, setting off nationwide protests by abortion-rights activists.

The governors of the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint statement Friday saying their states will remain locations where reproductive health care will be accessible and protected.

VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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