Women’s marches to gather thousands for Roe’s 50th anniversary

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PORTLAND, ORE. — Women’s marches demanding protections for abortion rights are set to draw thousands across the country on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established a federal right to abortion.

Organizers said they are now focusing on the states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, sparking a flurry of abortion restrictions and near-outright bans in more than a dozen states.

“We’re going where the struggle is, and that’s at the state level,” the Women’s March website says. The group called this year’s actions “More than a deer”.

The main march will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, where the upcoming state Supreme Court election could determine the balance of power on the court and the future of abortion rights in the state.

Abortions are not available in Wisconsin because of the legal uncertainty that abortion clinics face.

Two days ago, the annual March for Life brought tens of thousands of freshly galvanized anti-abortion activists to Washington, DC.

Because of the lack of federal protection in Roe v. Wade, abortion rights have become a state-by-state taint. In some states, officials are fighting abortion laws that date back to the 1800s and are still in place.

In Wisconsin, abortion clinics are facing legal questions over whether an 1849 law banning the procedure still applies. A law banning abortions except to save the patient’s life is being challenged in court.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, backed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, appealed the 1849 ban in Dane County, where Madison is located, in June, arguing it was too old to be enforced. Since then, the two sides have been exchanging information, and it’s unclear when a decision might come, but it looks like the case will go to the state Supreme Court.

The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court, which has ruled consistently in favor of Republicans for decades, is likely to hear the case. Judicial races are officially nonpartisan, but candidates have aligned themselves with conservatives or liberals over the years as the contests have become expensive partisan battles.

Evers, who has made abortion central to his re-election campaign for governor, has repeatedly called on the Republican-controlled state legislature to put the decision on abortion in the hands of voters. Republican leaders expressed a willingness to introduce exceptions to the law in cases of rape or incest, but Evers remained adamant that he would not sign anything other than the protections that existed under Roe.

Besides Wisconsin, women’s rallies are expected to take place in almost every state on Sunday.

The Women’s March has become a regular event – albeit interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic – since millions of women marched in the US and around the world the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

Trump has made appointing conservative judges a mission of his presidency. The three conservative justices he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett — all voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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Associated Press writer Harm Venhuizen reported from Madison, Wisconsin.

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Claire Rush is a staff member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Reporting for America is a nonprofit national outreach program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues. Follow Claire on Twitter.

Women’s marches to gather thousands for Roe’s 50th anniversary

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