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Levi’s argues for abortion rights as protests grow in US

Abortion rights demonstrators during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Abortion rights suddenly emerged as an issue that could reshape the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of Congress, following a report that conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court were poised to strike down the half-century-old Roe v. Wade precedent.

A day after the leak of a draft majority US Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v Wade, people in more than a dozen cities rallied for abortion rights.

Protests scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. quickly grew from hundreds into the thousands, with the biggest gatherings outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., and at Foley Square in New York.Many of the protests were led by the Women’s March, which started in Washington, DC after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and were held at courthouses across the US.

If the ruling goes forward as written in the draft, abortion access will be left to state discretion unless Congress codifies the right on a national level. In the absence of Roe, about two dozen US states have laws on the books that would outlaw abortion in all or most cases.

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Levi’s calls on businesses to protect abortion access

In a statement, apparel maker Levi Strauss & Co encouraged corporations to “act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights”. The company pointed to research findings that women who have access to safe and legal abortion are more likely to stay in the workforce and less likely to fall into poverty.

“Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue,” the San Fransisco-based company said. “Efforts to further restrict or criminalise that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation’s pursuit of gender and racial equity.”

Read: Levi’s Found Itself Thrust Into Culture Wars by Rogue Executive

Levi’s employees are eligible for reimbursement for reimbursement if they have to travel out of their home states for health care, including abortion. There is a similar benefit in place for part-time and contract workers.

New York AG promises help for abortion seekers

Attorney General Letitia James told the crowd at the New York City rally that the state will help individuals who travel across state lines to obtain a legal abortion in New York. “I want people to know in those deep red states: New York is here for you as well,” she said.

James also spoke briefly about her own choice to have an abortion. “I walked proudly into Planned Parenthood,” she said. “And I make no apologies to anyone.”

Seattle signs calls for more justices

A crowd gathered in Kerry Park overlooking downtown Seattle, waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee and other elected officials to speak about efforts the state is taking to ensure access to abortion.

One attendee waived a sign that read, “If men could get pregnant, abortion clinics would outnumber Starbucks!” — a nod to the coffee chain that was founded in the city. Another sign called for additional justices to be added to the Supreme Court. A third read, “If only Hillary had won.”

Corinne Sebren, 35, said she came out to show elected officials that it was important to protect “reproductive rights and access to safe and non-shameful abortion.” An attorney, she said Washington state could still do more to ensure access to abortion and also help people who live in states where it’s being curtailed.

“We should be a leader for other states,” she said.

Crowd grows quickly outside Supreme Court

A sparse crowd outside the Supreme Court Tuesday quickly grew to more than 1,000 by early evening. The Capitol Police put barriers in front of the building’s steps, splitting the crowd in two, as people chanted about abortion rights under attack and pledged to fight back.

Laurin Buck, 68, said she saw firsthand how women’s rights evolved after Roe v. Wade. The potential reversal signifies the country is “going totally backwards,” she said.

Foley Square crowd clad in green

Minutes after the New York protest was slated to begin, several hundred people were already congregated. Within a half hour, the crowd had grown to more than 1,000. At least four helicopters were hovering above Foley Square, with more than a dozen news camera crews surrounding the plaza.

The crowd was largely clad in green, the international symbol of abortion rights, and kids —- some as young as toddlers —- ran around the Square’s center. “That’s what you get when you schedule a protest the same time as daycare pickup,” said Lauren Balaban, 39, a freelance social media manager on the Upper West Side. She came with her son Berkeley, age 5.

“Something this catastrophic, you show up,” she said while trying to wrangle her son, also donning green.

Eileen Fitzgerald’s daughter texted her about the leak of the draft opinion on Tuesday morning. It immediately animated Fitzgerald, 62, whose grandmother died in 1928 from an illegal abortion.

“I don’t skip any opportunity to protest for my daughters and myself and my family before me,” said Fitzgerald, a registered nurse who has two daughters. “What’s coming is scary for my children and their children.”

Freedom Tower

“It is time, when our rights are being ripped away from us, to take that stand in the streets,” U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District told several dozen supporters gathered at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Tuesday afternoon.

The draft decision “was a window into a potentially dark future,” she said, adding that she barely was able to sleep last night. “We shouldn’t have to, but we must fight like hell to control the decisions about our own bodies because our lives depend on it.”

“And let’s face facts, it could mean we lose access to other birth control, or even decide who you can love or marry, and don’t think that that is just some random prediction,” she said. “The hostility for precedent contained in that draft opinion means any number of basic civil rights protections are no longer safe.” BM



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