Protests swell across major cities as US reckons with supreme court decision draft – live | Roe v Wade


Biden ‘not prepared’ to support ending Senate filibuster to pass abortion rights law

We’ve received the full transcript of Joe Biden’s remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, in which he appears to rule out ending the filibuster to get an abortion rights law through the senate.

Democrats need 60 votes in the chamber, 10 more than they currently have, although they would harbor hopes of persuading moderate Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski over to their side.

Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews.
Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Joint Base Andrews. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Overriding the procedural filibuster rule, seen as a nuclear option by congressional watchers, would reduce the requirement to 50 – but Biden says he’s not on board. At least not yet.

“I’m not prepared to make those judgments now,” Biden replied to a reporter’s question asking him directly if the senate should do away with the filibuster to codify the Roe v Wade ruling that gives a constitutional right to abortion.

He did say, however, that such a law “makes a lot of sense”:

Think what Roe says. Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the right, that the existence of a human life and being, is a question. Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks?

So the idea that we’re going to make a judgment, that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the supreme court, I think, goes way overboard.

The Democratic senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has promised a vote in the wake of the supreme court’s draft opinion, although he acknowledges he doesn’t have the votes he needs for it to pass.

The purpose, he said, would ensure “every American is going to see which side every senator stands”.

Biden said he was still looking at the draft ruling, but did not like what he was reading:

It basically says all the decisions related to your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions, how you raise your child… what does this do?

Does this mean that in Florida they can decide they’re going to pass a law saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, that it’s against the law in Florida?

It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence if it were to hold.

Actor and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus is “really angry” and ready to match USD$10,000 in donations to support abortion funds.

I’m really angry. How about you?

I’m matching $10K in donations to 80+ abortion funds that help arrange & pay for people to get the abortion care they need.

Please donate here to get matched and let me know below when you do: https://t.co/0bU3yiIQpo pic.twitter.com/RUM7txjCga

— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) May 3, 2022

The actress’ anger echoes that expressed by US leaders, with Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren taking to the streets of Washington earlier declaring: “‘I am angry, upset and determined”.

Watch the full video here.

‘I am angry!’: Elizabeth Warren lambasts supreme court after draft abortion opinion leak – video

Lyft is one of the few companies publicly commenting on the leaked supreme court draft opinion to overturn Roe v Wade, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview with the newspaper on Tuesday, Lyft president John Zimmer “reiterated the firm’s commitment to helping women get abortions if needed”.

Lyft prez said co had multiple convos about Roe v. Wade draft opinion. Already said it’ll pay legal fees of drivers sued for taking riders to abortion clinic

“We will continue to look for ways to make a difference … and to, most importantly, take action”https://t.co/spysACKNOx

— Meghan Bobrowsky (@MeghanBobrowsky) May 3, 2022

Kari Paul has more on the ‘pro-life Spiderman’, who was reportedly arrested in San Fransisco on Tuesday after free-climbing the 60-floor Salesforce tower, in a stunt apparently indented as a protest against abortion.

In this photo provided by the San Francisco Fire Department, a man is seen climbing the 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco
In this photo provided by the San Francisco Fire Department, a man is seen climbing the 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco Photograph: AP

Read the full story here.

The supreme court’s draft ruling and the reaction that followed has made front pages beyond the US, too.

In the UK, the Independent leads with an image of protesters outside the supreme court with the headline “Outcry at court threat to abortion rights across US”.

The Guardian also has protesters in Washington shown alongside its headline: “Biden: leaked anti-abortion ruling ‘imperils civil rights’”.

The Financial Times leads with “Supreme Court leak rallies Biden to defence of US abortion rights”, reporting that “judges urged to uphold Roe v Wade” while noting the draft opinion may not be the final say.

Kamala Harris calls supreme court decision ‘assault on freedom’

Vice-president Kamala Harris has said that the potential supreme court decision overturning Roe v Wade represents an attack on women and lashed out at Republicans for “weaponizing” the issue.

“If the court overturns Roe v Wade, it will be a direct assault on freedom,” Harris, a Democrat, told attendees at a gala hosted by Emily’s List, an organization which works to get abortion-rights Democrats elected to office.

Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of Roe v. Wade against women.

The rights of all Americans are at risk. This is the time to fight for women and our country with everything we have.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 3, 2022

The vice-president has long championed women’s health, particularly related to abortion rights.

On Tuesday she said the last 24 hours have made it clear where Democrats and Republicans stand. Harris’ speech was planned before the leak of the ruling, but has taken on added meaning.

Some Republican leaders are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. How dare they. How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body. How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future. How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms.”

Hello, this is Rafqa Touma taking over the blog on a seismic day in America, after a leaked draft supreme court ruling overturning Roe v Wade sent shockwaves across the country.

Protests have been building across the country as women demand that their reproductive rights are protected.

Barrack Obama has said the provisional ruling was “a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe in a free society,” while Michelle Obama has recognised Americans “fearing that their essential freedoms under the constitution were at risk”. And Elizabeth Warren has taken to the streets of Washington, screaming “I am angry!”.

Follow us here for live updates as events unfold into the evening.

Here are some images form the rallies across the US.

Abortion-rights supporters march in downtown Atlanta
Abortion-rights supporters march in downtown Atlanta Photograph: Matthew Pearson/REX/Shutterstock
A protest in support of abortion rights is held in Boston
A protest in support of abortion rights is held in Boston
Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters
A demonstrator wearing a face mask takes part in a protest in New York City
A demonstrator wearing a face mask takes part in a protest in New York City Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters
Defend the Right To Abortion EmergenPorchse Miller, a community oragnizer for the Atlanta NAACP speaks in downtown Atlanta
Defend the Right To Abortion EmergenPorchse Miller, a community oragnizer for the Atlanta NAACP speaks in downtown Atlanta Photograph: Matthew Pearson/REX/Shutterstock

In case you missed Elizabeth Warren’s earlier speech, here is a quick snippet of her remarks from the protest at the supreme court below.

“I am angry, upset and determined,” the Massachusetts Democratic senator said.

“The United States Congress can keep Roe v Wade the law of the land, they just need to do it,” referring to the Women’s Health Protection Act, which fell down in the Senate in March because of lack of Republican support and one Democrat opposing.

‘I am angry!’: Elizabeth Warren lambasts supreme court after draft abortion opinion leak – video

Evening summary

Kari Paul here in California, logging off for the evening following a harrowing 24 hours for abortion access in the United States. My colleagues in Australia will take it from here. Here’s an summary of where things stand this evening, courtesy of myself and other Guardian reporters:

  • Thousands have joined pro-choice protests across the US following the supreme court leak, with actions in Nashville, Dallas, New York City, and other cities. There has also been a large protest outside the supreme court itself in Washington DC.
  • The governor of Oklahoma has signed into law a bill banning abortion after six weeks, mirroring a similar controversial measure passed last year in Texas.
  • A protestor in San Francisco was arrested after scaling the 60-floor Salesforce tower in an action to oppose abortion.
  • Chief justice John Roberts has promised a full inquiry into the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft ruling overturning Roe v Wade, calling the leak an act of “betrayal”. Roberts also confirmed the authenticity of the document, reported lats night by Politico.
  • Speaking to reporters on his way to Alabama, Joe Biden said the draft ruling is “really quite a radical decision … a fundamental shift” in the supreme court’s previous position on abortion. Biden also said in an earlier statement that the government must protect a woman’s right to abortion.
  • But any attempt in the US Senate to codify abortion rights looks doomed to failure because Democrats cannot muster the 60 votes they need. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is promising a vote anyway: “Every American is going to see which side every senator stands”.
  • Susan Collins, the Republican senator who voted to confirm two of Donald Trump’s three picks to the supreme court because they promised her abortion rights were settled law, says the justices’ new stance is “inconsistent” with what they previously said.

Pro-choice rallies sweep the country

Thousands have joined pro-choice protests across the US following the publishing of a report revealing landmark abortion rights decision Roe v Wade may be overturned by the supreme court.

Thousands rallied in cities including Nashville, Dallas, New York City, and New Orleans on Tuesday evening after politicians including Hillary Clinton encouraged action.

The crowd at the rally for abortion access outside the 5th circuit courthouse in New Orleans is spilling into the street. Police have blocked off traffic. I’d guess there are around 250 people spanning from the Ben Franklin statue to the edge of Lafayette square. More walking up. pic.twitter.com/PPaesZvgSw

— Emily Woodruff (@emily_woodruff_) May 3, 2022

Doctors report overwhelming demand from out-of-state patients as more abortion bans pass

As Texas, Oklahoma, and others in the US pass extreme anti-abortion laws, doctors in neighboring states say they have struggled to manage the influx of traveling patients.

In Colorado, one abortion provider told local reporter Alex Burness his case load has doubled since the fall, and that his colleagues are facing similar struggles.

BTW, the same out-of-state demand Colorado is seeing (+ will keep seeing) for abortion exists for gender-affirming care. As these and other issues are treated as state matters, CO has become an unofficial sanctuary on multiple fronts. Serious capacity/funding limits as a result.

— Alex Burness (@alex_burness) May 3, 2022

People are facing longer waits and higher risks to pregnancy as a result, according to Burness.

The issue comes as abortion access is further threatened by a pending supreme court decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

Twenty-six US states have “trigger laws” on the books that would immediately make abortion illegal if the landmark court decision is overturned, putting more pressure on states that maintain abortion services.

Anti-abortion activist scales San Francisco’s Salesforce tower

A man calling himself the “pro-life Spiderman” was arrested Tuesday after free climbing the Salesforce tower in San Francisco.

The fire department confirmed the incident on Twitter and encouraged the public to “join us in condemning this action”.

At 60 floors and 1,070 feet, the Salesforce tower is the second tallest building West of the Mississipi and the 17th-tallest in the US.

San Francisco Fire is on scene with other Public Safety Agencies at 415 Mission, Sales Force Tower for a reported climber climbing the 60 floor tower. This person is placing firefighters lives and the publics safety at risk. AVOID THE AREA and join us in condemning this action. pic.twitter.com/QDpkfrYs4E

— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) May 3, 2022

The activist apparently sought to protest a specific abortion provider, according to posts on his personal Instagram.

He has gone to similarly extreme measures in support other fringe rightwing causes in the past, including climbing the 600 foot Aria Hotel in August 2021 to protest Covid-19 mandates in the state.

Oklahoma governor signs bill banning abortion after six weeks

Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law on Tuesday prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, mirroring an extreme law passed by Texas in 2021.

Its passage comes amid nation-wide protests triggered by the leak of a supreme court decision draft that showed the body is poised to overturn landmark abortion rights decision Roe v Wade.

The Oklahoma and Texas laws are part of a nationwide effort in Republican-led states to push forth extreme anti-abortion measures in hopes the now majority conservative supreme court will uphold them.

Oklahoma’s law is set to take effect immediately, forcing abortion providers in the state to immediately stop providing the procedure to people at six or more weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the bill.

Protests swell in New York City

Thousands of protestors began to gather in New York City’s Foley Square on Tuesday evening ahead of a protest planned by pro-choice advocates.

The action follows the leak of a document that revealed the supreme court is poised to overturn key abortion rights decision Roe v Wade. A parallel protest is planned for Brooklyn’s Barclays center later in the day.

Activists are already expressing concern that police department measures for crowd control could impact the action.

Politicians including Hilary Clinton and New York Senator Julia Salazar have endorsed the protest.





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