US protesters call on Biden to do more to protect abortion rights

Hundreds of women gathered in front of the White House and in cities across the United States, calling for President Joe Biden to do more in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that removed federal abortion protection in the country.

Several demonstrators, who gathered in the pouring rain in Washington, DC on Saturday, said the Biden administration had come up short following the Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe vs Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that determined access to abortion was protected under the country’s constitution.

“Stand up, Joe Biden,” a woman who gave only her first name, Becca, 37, said at the protest, according to the AFP news agency.

Many wore green, which has become the international colour of abortion rights, and shouted slogans including “My body, my choice” and “Bans off our bodies”.

The reversal of Roe vs Wade has returned the question of the legality of abortion to state governments across the US. Several states have since moved to ban the procedure completely, setting off an array of legal challenges in state courts.

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group, has identified at least 26 states considered at risk of banning abortion completely or to a prohibitive level following the Supreme Court ruling.

Becca said she had travelled more than two hours to Washington, DC from Virginia and carried a sign that said “abortion on demand without apology”.

“Fix this!” she said, adding an executive order signed by Biden on Friday that sought to ease some potential penalties that women seeking abortion could face did not go far enough.

That executive order formalised instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to push back on any efforts to limit the ability of women to access federally approved abortion medication or to travel across state lines to access clinical abortion services.

However, Biden had acknowledged that his office’s powers were limited, and as president, he could not restore federal abortion rights on his own.

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