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Abortion-rights activists rally at Supreme Court to protest new state bans

People listen at the Alabama State Capitol during the March for Reproductive Freedom against the state’s new abortion law, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. abortion-rights campaigners, including several Democrats running for president in 2020, are set to rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to protest new restrictions on abortion passed by legislatures in eight states.

Many of the restrictions are intended to draw legal challenges, which religious conservatives hope will lead the nation’s top court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, are among the presidential candidates expected to speak at Tuesday’s rally, according to media accounts.

The rally is one of scores being organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other civil rights group in what they are describing as a Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action.

Some of the new laws passed by Republican state legislatures amount to the tightest restrictions on abortion seen in the United States in decades. Alabama passed an outright ban last week, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Other states, including Ohio and Georgia, have banned abortions absent a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy or after the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which can occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those laws are in defiance of the Roe v. Wade ruling, which affords a woman the right to an abortion up to the moment the fetus would be viable outside the womb, which is usually placed at about seven months, or 28 weeks, but may occur earlier.

The bans have been championed by conservatives, many of them Christian, who say fetuses should have rights comparable to those of infants and view abortion as tantamount to murder. The Supreme Court now has a 5-4 conservative majority following two judicial appointments by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Civil rights groups are suing to overturn the bans as eroding a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and say they endanger women who seek riskier illegal or homespun means to terminate a pregnancy.

Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington, writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott


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