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5th Women's March focuses on reproductive rights after new Texas abortion law

Thousands of rallygoers in hundreds of cities across the country are gathering Saturday for the 5th Women's March, focusing on abortion justice.

The rally in the national's capital is hosting roughly 5,000 people in and around Freedom Plaza, the group says. Marches are also taking place in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Several Texas cities are also holding rallies. The state has come under renewed focus in the battle for reproductive justice; legislation passed last month essentially bans abortions after about six weeks. Most women do not know they are pregnant at that time.

The marches also come ahead of Monday's reconvening of the Supreme Court for its next session. Among the cases before the high court is one that could challenge the current standing of the landmark Roe v. Wade case that protects a person's choice to have an abortion.

Activists hold signs during the Women's March rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Saturday.
Jose Luis Magana / AP
Activists hold signs during the Women's March rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Saturday.

"Abortion is health care, basic health care, essential health care, health care that cannot wait," Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd in Washington, D.C.

While the focus lately has been on Texas' recent abortion ban, Johnson reminded the crowd that restrictions on abortion rights are going on all over the country.

"This year alone we have seen nearly 600 restrictions in 47 states," she said. "So no matter where you live, no matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep."

At the march in Austin, Texas, some rallygoers told KUT reporter Ashley Lopez they would consider moving out of the state over the restrictive abortion ban.

"If this law doesn't go away, I don't want to get rid of my rights," Ashlie Harrison said. "So, I do think about maybe moving out if it doesn't get changed."

The first Women's March was held in 2017 on the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration.

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Corrected: October 2, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the Women's March in Washington, D.C., was based on the National Mall. The main rally before the march took place at Freedom Plaza.
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.