Bullhorns and abortion slogans at the Supreme Court
Pro-abortion protests turn aggressive following a Supreme Court leak threatening the future of Roe v. Wade
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday night, a group of 13 students from the Catholic University of America knelt in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and recited the Hail Mary. It was less than 24 hours since a leaked draft court opinion signaled a possible end to the legal right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.
Immediately, hundreds of pro-abortion protesters surrounded the students, yelling, “Get out of here!” “We all hate you right now,” and “My body, my choice.” One woman wielding a picket sign flashed an obscene hand gesture in front of the upheld rosaries and screamed, “[Obscenity] your religion!” until the prayers finished.
The scene was one of many this week that demonstrated the heated emotions, mostly from pro-abortion activists, in protest crowds. Within 15 minutes of the leaked draft’s publication in Politico on Monday, pro-abortion and pro-life crowds surged around the Supreme Court steps. Capitol Police hastily installed crowd control fences around the building in downtown Washington.
“Everyone here is motivated by a very strong sense of justice for what they think is right,” said Catholic University of America senior John Kish at the Tuesday demonstration. “I would like to see a lot of the division solved by dialogue, but I think we saw tonight that doesn’t really happen. So we hope and pray.”
While the Supreme Court marshal begins an investigation to uncover who leaked the draft opinion, pro-abortion lawmakers are setting their sights on legislation to codify abortion rights. The Women’s Health Protection Act, proposed in response to the Texas Heartbeat Act, would mandate legal abortion in federal law. It passed the House in September but failed to gain the 60 Senate votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Tuesday he intends to reopen the bill for debate next week.
Meanwhile, demonstrators outside the Supreme Court are continuing their own debates. At one clash between people in the crowd Tuesday, a woman yelled to another young man, “You can say it’s a baby. I don’t care.” Behind her, supporters chanted, “No uterus, no opinion!”
One 18-year-old pro-life supporter who gave her name only as Michele D. said she stopped at the protest after seeing the crowd on her way home from the grocery store. “I’m hopefully optimistic and praying hard that this decision carries through to the end,” she said of the court’s draft opinion. “These people are all bark and no bite. They can scream in my face all day long, it’s not going to change the fact that I know that I’m right.”
Herb Geraghty, a 25-year-old activist with the secular Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) and executive director of Rehumanize International, said PAAU group members encountered aggressive opposition Wednesday afternoon as they drummed 5-gallon tubs to the slogan, “Pro-choice is a lie, babies never choose to die.”
He told WORLD the group saw worse the day before. According to videos posted from the scene and Geraghty, the crowds hit them with megaphones and ripped signs out of their hands.
“I have seen more violence and aggression from the pro-abortion people than I’ve probably ever seen in my entire life,” Geraghty said. “I’m an activist, I’m used to being shoved around. But that’s not what I saw here. [On Tuesday] I saw a person take a megaphone and bang it into the head of one of the pro-life activists. I came home with blood spots on my shirt, but I don’t know whose it was.”
When they returned Wednesday, pro-abortion activists again began surrounding the team, but this time Capitol police officers intervened, dividing demonstrators with a line of bikes.
“I refuse to live in a society that benefits from and celebrates killing children in the womb. We’re not going to stop coming just because we’re threatened,” said PAAU organizer Caroline Smith, 23. Saying she was “shocked but also extremely excited” about the draft opinion, Smith held a picture of a baby she said was aborted at a facility 2 miles from the court: “Once Roe falls, we have so much more to do. Our work will not be done until every child is protected under the law from being brutally ripped apart.”
Abortion activists elsewhere across the country also rallied and marched Wednesday. While most gatherings were reportedly peaceful, clashes between protesters and Department of Homeland Security officials in Los Angeles resulted in one officer injured after some members of the crowd hurled rocks and bottles. Social media videos showed some officers tackling protesters and waving batons to push back the activists.
On Wednesday night in Washington, workers reinstalled 8-foot, unscalable fences around the Supreme Court — the same used after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol last year.
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