LOS ANGELES (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris urged Americans Saturday to take action during “a critical moment in our nation’s history” as thousands of protesters rallied across the country against new limits on abortion rights that they made their way through the courts.
The nationwide protests on Saturday were sparked by actions by the US Supreme Court the day before, when the high court stepped in to delay rule changes that would have limited how the abortion drug could be used and dispensed. mifepristone. The limits have been halted while the court reviews the case further.
Harris made a surprise stop in Los Angeles at one of the rallies, where she called the latest agitation over abortion rights a new foray by conservatives into a myriad of “fundamental rights” many Americans thought they had.
“So this is a moment that history will show requires each of us, based on our collective love for our country, to stand up, fight and protect our ideals. That is what this moment is,” he said Saturday, speaking to several hundred protesters from the steps of City Hall. “When you attack women’s rights in America, you are attacking America.”
Some of the protesters expressed anger over the steps of the nation’s highest court, which took the action Friday at the request of the federal Justice Department. The agency asked the high court to lift the restrictions on mifepristone imposed by a Texas appeals court earlier in the week. The appeals court decision narrowed the window of time in which the drug could be used and prevented the drug from being distributed by mail.
Critics of the Texas and appeals court decisions, including drug companies, viewed the court’s actions as a dangerous intrusion into the FDA’s authority, which regulates how drugs are sold and used in the United States.
Protesters in New York City stood behind a sign with a four-letter slur directed at Texas, where a federal judge unleashed the latest volley in the abortion battle. They held signs urging the government to defend medical abortions.
But the crowd was modest, drawing just over 100 people outside the quaint public library on Fifth Avenue.
Still, the protesters drew the eyes of passersby along the busy thoroughfare, with some briefly joining the group to lend their voices.
“It can be hard to get people out, because people are being bombarded with all kinds of assaults on their bodies and people are tired and poor,” said Viva Ruiz, who said she helped organize the demonstration.
“The news cycle is so fast that when something terrible happens, it happens the next day. So it’s hard to keep the momentum or the energy to get people out on the streets,” Ruiz said.
With few exceptions, many of the demonstrations, organized under the banner of a group calling itself “Bigger Than Roe,” took place in smaller cities.
Since last year’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized the right to abortion, more than a dozen states have effectively banned abortion, while other states have taken steps to further toughen abortion laws.
On Thursday, the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature became the latest state to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Restrictions on the supply and use of mifepristone, part of a two-drug regimen to terminate a pregnancy, would be yet another blow to abortion rights advocates. The other drug, misoprostol, can be used alone, but doing so is less effective than using both drugs in combination.
When mifepristone was first approved, the FDA limited its use to seven weeks of pregnancy. It also required three face-to-face office visits: the first to administer mifepristone, the next to administer the second drug, misoprostol, and the third to treat any complications.
If the appeals court action is upheld, those would again be the terms under which mifepristone could be dispensed.
States that support abortion rights, including California and New York, have begun stockpiling misoprostol to ensure their states have adequate supplies. Washington state is among those that stockpiles a supply of mifepristone or its generic form. And Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Maura Healey said the administration is devoting $1 million to help suppliers contracted by the Department of Public Health purchase additional amounts of mifepristone.
More than 5.6 million women in the US had used mifepristone as of June 2022, according to the FDA. In that period, the agency received 4,200 reports of complications in women, or less than one-tenth of 1% of women who took the drug.
Calvan reported from New York.
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