Tens of thousands of women have marched across cities in the United States to protest increasing restrictions on abortion.
The 660 demonstrations around the US on Saturday, including on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington DC, were largely sparked by a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
In Washington, DC, protesters filled the streets surrounding the Supreme Court, shouting: “My body, my choice,” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.
They carried signs that said: “Mind your own uterus”, “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate.”
Some wore T-shirts reading simply “1973″, a reference to the landmark Roe v Wade decision, which made abortion legal for generations of American women.
“No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the Rally for Abortion Justice in Washington, DC.
She spoke of women who have been forced to drive for many hours across state lines – sometimes multiple state lines – to end pregnancies since the Texas law went into effect.
“No matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep right now,” McGill Johnson said. “This moment is dark, but that is why we are here.”
The so-called “heart beat” law signed by Governor Greg Abbott bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo, usually around six weeks. That is before most women know they are pregnant and earlier than 85 percent to 90 percent of all abortions are carried out, experts say.
The law relies on ordinary citizens to enforce the ban, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, rewarding them at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an illegal abortion.