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Rallies to defend US abortion rights

Demonstrators opposed to a US Supreme Court decision that could overturn the constitutional right to abortion have planned rallies from coast to coast to express their outrage.

More than 380 events were set to be held on Saturday, from Maine to Hawaii, with the largest gatherings expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other big cities, organisers said.

In the nation’s capital, activists planned to gather at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by a security fence.

Tens of thousands of people were expected at the “Bans off our Bodies” events, providing an outlet for anger and frustration for abortion rights activists after a leaked draft Supreme Court ruling suggested Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get,” said Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March.

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.

The upcoming ruling stands to energise voters, potentially shaping the upcoming midterm elections.

Saturday’s rallies were being held three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade. Sponsors included the Women’s March, Move On, Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn, SEIU and other organisations.

Carmona said the fight will continue at polling places, demonstrations and other venues “until we have a full restoration of our rights.”

“It’s no exaggeration to say that for the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage,” she said.

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