Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in more than 400 cities across the country on Saturday to protest the dismantling of abortion rights, kicking off what organizers are calling a “summer of rage” in response to state abortion bans and the news that Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. Planned Parenthood, the Women’s March, and a coalition of other reproductive rights groups planned the day of action.
In Texas, arguably ground zero in the war on abortion rights, protesters rallied in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and former state Rep. Wendy Davis—famous for filibustering an abortion ban for 13 hours in pink tennis shoes—were among the speakers who addressed the rally of at least 1,000 people at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, before a band called “Pelvis Wrestley” provided live entertainment.
Laura Balvanz, 66, attended the Austin rally on Saturday morning to make her voice heard. “If I had all my pregnancies that were conceived, I would have five children instead of two,” she told Jezebel’s Caitlin Cruz. “I believe I would be in abject poverty. I don’t believe it’s right for the Supreme Court to abandon women in this country.”
Gen Zers showed up in force, too. Daniela Pérez, 22, and John Ortiz, 24, from Waco, Texas, brought a sign to Austin that said, “If we burn, you burn with us.”
Laurel Morris, 23, and Talula Thibault, 24, both of Austin, told Jezebel they “wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
“I know so many people who’ve had abortion whose lives would be so different” if they’d been prevented from doing so, said Thibault.
Roughly two dozen counter-protesters showed up to the Texas State Capitol carrying black “we are the post-Roe generation” signs, but pro-abortion protesters overwhelmingly outnumbered them and drove them off the Capitol grounds within an hour.
New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles saw the largest turnouts on Saturday. Rikki Asher, 66, showed up to the New York rally with a giant, elaborate Mother Nature puppet she made (protesters were encouraged to wear green). She said she’s been to every abortion rights protest in NYC, but this is “Mother Nature’s first.”
“She’s pissed that the men making the decisions have lost their compassion,” Asher told Jezebel’s Lauren Tousignant, “And these are her boys. So she’s here to remind them of their compassion.”
Yolande Leger, who lists her age as “over 60,” is originally from Haiti and lives in Harlem. “I’m elated right now,” she told us. “I can’t even count how many protests I’ve been to. I love them. Because if our rights are going down, I’m going to stand up.”
Organizers of the Saturday demonstrations said this will be the first of many protests, as we prepare for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling. While the ruling would technically, at first, only kick abortion rights back to the states to decide, 13 states already have “trigger bans” that would immediately ban abortion after the decision comes down, and Republican leaders are eyeing a nationwide six-week abortion ban if they take back Congress in the midterms.
“For the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage,” said Rachel Carmona, president of Women’s March. “We will be ungovernable until this government starts working for us, until the attacks on our bodies let up, until the right to an abortion is codified into law.”