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Abortion rights advocates rally at Texas Capitol Saturday

Speakers included former State Sen. Wendy Davis.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday, abortion rights advocates across the U.S. gathered for a "Bans Off Our Bodies" day of action in support of abortion access. 

According to a press release, more than 380 demonstrations were planned nationwide, including one here in Austin. The Austin event began at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Texas Capitol. Speakers included former State Sen. Wendy Davis.

The nationwide events were organized by the Women's March, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet and MoveOn, in partnership with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NARAL and Liberate Abortion

According to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, over 1 million people rallied for abortion rights at over 450 events nationwide and around the world.

The events are in response to a recent leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that suggested that the nation's highest court could be planning to overturn the landmark abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade. It is a draft opinion and a final decision on the matter could be months away.

Demonstrators at the event held up signs and chanted things like "My body, my choice."

Dabney Rigby and her husband, Matt Martina, went to the rally together with their son.

"It starts here. Like reproductive rights are critical for so many reasons," Rigby said. "It affects everyone. It's regardless of gender. We should all be fighting for reproductive rights and human rights in general."

Her husband said he went to support his wife and all women.

"Trust women with what to do with their bodies," Martina said. "We give a lot of the work, almost all the work of rearing children to the women. And so are we doing our part? Are you doing your part as a husband, as a father, as a man to stand up for rights?"

Rigby and Martina said they are both angry after hearing about the leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade.

Others at the event shared the same sentiment. 

"It was a combination of anger. I felt rather sick and I couldn't sleep. It's terrifying to think of what that means, of the implications of that," Jocelyn Wright recalled about the moment she found out about the leaked draft opinion. "There's been a concerted effort to continue to restrict abortion rights. And it's just completely unacceptable. And we need to do more to fight back."

A small group of anti-abortion protesters showed up at the event as well. 

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would virtually eliminate abortion access in Texas. Last year, the Legislature passed a so-called “trigger law” that would go into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, making performing abortion a felony.

Since the draft opinion leaked, protests have sprung up across the U.S., including in Austin. Last week, at least two people were arrested during protests in the city.

On Thursday, hundreds of local students walked out of their classes to protest the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. At least two other walkouts happened on Friday.

Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon said people who wish to participate in protests this weekend and in coming weeks should be confident in the lessons the APD learned from the May 2020 protests.

The Travis County Democratic Party was also hosting a Day of Action on Saturday, with events starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Texas AFL-CIO office. Participants then headed to the Capitol at 11 a.m.

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