Thousands of people attended an annual anti-abortion rally Friday with their hopes raised this year that the conservative-majority Supreme Court will overturn the landmark ruling that legalized abortion in the United States 50 years ago.
"We are hoping and praying that this year 2022 will bring a historic change for life," said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
"Years of hard work and you coming here have brought us to this place," Mancini told the anti-abortion activists shivering on a bitterly cold day on the National Mall in Washington.
"This year is more of a celebration because we know that this year is the beginning of the end of abortion in America," said Joseph Scordato, a 20-year-old from Wisconsin who was dressed as a medieval knight and carrying a giant cross.
"The Future is Anti-Abortion," read signs carried by members of the crowd, who descended on the nation's capital from across the country.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on December 1 about a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization.
The court's conservative wing -- which includes three justices nominated by former president Donald Trump -- appears ready to uphold the law and perhaps go further and overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion.
If Roe is overturned, each of the 50 US states could potentially set its own abortion laws.
Laws severely restricting abortion have been passed already in multiple Republican-led states, but have been struck down for violating Roe v Wade, which guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 22 to 24 weeks.
'Light at the end of the tunnel'
Activists at the march said that if Roe is overturned, they will continue their anti-abortion efforts in the states.
"I am so excited because this might be the last March for Life where Roe v Wade still exists in our country," said Karlie Lodjic, 24, a member of "Students for Life" from Washington state.
"If it's overturned, it won't immediately outlaw abortion everywhere," Lodjic said. "We're still going to have work to do in each individual state and make sure that life is respected and protected everywhere."
Marsha Chamberlain, 72, from Pennsylvania, said she has been attending the march since 1985 and has only missed four.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel," Chamberlain said. "It could be the last march and I pray that it is, that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of Mississippi and that states can decide for themselves to protect unborn people."
Missy Martinez-Stone, 32, from Louisville, Kentucky, said she has been doing "pro-life work" for 17 years.
"I always imagined that I would see the end of Roe versus Wade but I didn't think it'd be so soon," Martinez-Stone said.
"But I know that that's not the end of it," she said. "If it's overturned on a federal level, it's just going to go back to the states. And so we still have a lot of work to do."
"I am optimistic but it doesn't mean our work is done," she said.
Joshua Schulz, 42, from Pennsylvania, attended the march with three of his five children.
"I came here to stand in solidarity with other Americans who believe that all life is sacred," Schulz said, "and to pray for an end to the sin of abortion."
Decision by June
The court is to render a decision in the Mississippi case by June.
Public opinion polls have found most Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
But a segment of the population, particularly on the religious right, has never accepted the Roe v Wade ruling and has campaigned relentlessly to have it overturned.
© 2022 AFP
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has brushed off a legal challenge to his eligibility to run for re-election, but one expert cautioned the lawmaker not to dismiss the complaint so easily.
Voters in North Carolina challenged Cawthorn's candidacy based on a constitutional provision passed after the Civil War barring anyone from serving in Congress who had engaged in insurrection against the U.S. after previously taking an oath to support the Constitution, and law professor Harry Litman argued in a New York Times op-ed that the challenge might work.
"Mr. Cawthorn is being too quick to scoff," wrote Litman. "The 14th Amendment provision in question, while little known and not employed since 1919, is a close fit for his conduct around Jan. 6 — as well as that of at least a half-dozen Republican colleagues who the organization spearheading the challenge, Free Speech For People, suggests will be next."
Section 3 of the amendment added a qualification to hold office to the meager list already in the Constitution, such as requiring House members to be at least 25, a U.S. citizen for seven years and a resident of the state they represent.
"So, if the voter challenge succeeds in establishing that Mr. Cawthorn engaged in 'insurrection or rebellion,' he would be as ineligible to serve in Congress as if it were revealed that he is 24 years old," Litman argued. "Under North Carolina law, once challengers advance enough evidence to show reasonable suspicion that a candidate is not qualified, the burden shifts to the would-be candidate to demonstrate the contrary."
The North Carolina Board of Elections will set up a five-person panel from Cawthorn's GOP-leaning district, but their decision can be appealed and ultimately decided in time for the primary election set for May, but Litman argued that the first-term congressman's actions and statements clearly support the effort by Donald Trump supporters to disrupt the constitutional certification of Joe Biden's election win.
"If the North Carolina courts rule against him, expect Mr. Cawthorn to make a quick dash to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that it has final authority to interpret the federal constitutional term 'insurrection,'" Litman wrote. "At that point, a conservative majority that includes three justices appointed by Donald Trump might well sympathize with Mr. Cawthorn."
"But while it may be rare, the North Carolina voter challenge is no joke," he added. "The challengers have a strong case, and Mr. Cawthorn would be foolish to take it lightly."
'Hitler should have killed you all': Woman arrested for spitting on young boy in anti-Semitic attack
A woman who approached a group of children and hurled antisemitic remarks before spitting at one of them has been arrested, the New York Daily News reports.
Before spitting the 8-year-old boy who was standing outside a Brooklyn synagogue, the woman, identified as 21-year-old Christina Darling, said, "Hitler should have killed you all." She was arrested this Thursday and charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime and menacing as a hate crime.
Darling, an education, English and psychology major at St. Francis College, can be seen on surveillance video approaching the boy and two other children. She stops in front of the children and shouts, “Hitler should have killed you all. I’ll kill you and know where you live,” cops said. She then spit on the child and walked away.
UPDATE in anti-Jewish Hate Crime involving 8YO child. Thanks to help from the public, HCTF Detectives, assisted by Bklyn South Warrants, \narrested:\nDarling, Christina 21\nBrooklyn\n\nCharges:\nAggravated Harassment/Hate Crime\nAct in Manner Injurious to Child<17 x3\nMenacing/HC https://twitter.com/nypdhatecrimes/status/1483527477851045891\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/iKeAKuHi65— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPD Hate Crimes) 1642776268
After Darling’s arrest, a Jewish student at St. Francis College launched a petition calling school president Miguel Martinez-Saenz to expel Darling.
“St. Francis College has a strong policy against all forms of bullying, racism, antisemitism, and acts of violence rooted in hatred and bigotry,” wrote the student, who is identified on the petition by the initials G.M. “I urge President Miguel Martinez-Saenz to stand by his promises and denounce this horrifying act of racism, bigotry, and harassment against the Jewish people.”