Thousands attend NYC pro-choice marches, rallies

Abortion rights advocates held a "Bans Off Our Bodies" march in New York City and across the nation on Saturday as part of a nationwide set of rallies and marches against the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

In New York City, events began at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn at noon with a rally and speeches. The rally was followed by a march across the Brooklyn Bridge that temporarily shut down the bridge in both directions. 

Demonstrators chanted "Bans off our bodies now!" as they marched to Foley Square in Manhattan.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.

The mood was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade.

"I can’t believe that at my age, I’m still having to protest over this," said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government employee who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights.

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s "dissent" collar on it and a necklace that spelled out "vote."

"I think that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and can cost a woman her life," Loehr said.

A half-dozen anti-abortion demonstrators sent out a countering message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone, "Abortion is not health care, folks, because pregnancy is not an illness."

Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court may be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Roberts also ordered an investigation into what he called an "egregious breach of trust."

The Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling in the case, and opinions — and even justices' votes — have been known to change during the drafting process. The court is expected to rule on the case before its term is up in late June or early July.

The draft is signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court's 6-3 conservative majority, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," the draft opinion states.

Smaller abortion rights protests were held in New York City last weekend. New York officials have assured women that abortion would remain legal in the state.

Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appeared to be poised to let the states have the final say. If that happens, roughly half of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.

Abortion providers in New York are trying to measure a potential influx of women from out of state seeking their services as the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned weighs heavily across the country. 

In 2012, the CDC reported that out-of-staters accounted for about 3% of New York abortions but by 2019 that number tripled. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.