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Thousands gather for the 2021 Women's March to stand up for abortion rights

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Thousands attend 2021 Women's March
Thousands attend 2021 Women's March 02:11

The 2021 Women's March held on Saturday included celebrity guests and a message focused on reproductive rights. Nearly five years after its debut, which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington the day after former President Trump's inauguration, the march this year was organized by dozens of groups including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Service Employees International Union and Abortion Care Network.

"We are witnessing the most dire threat to abortion access in our lifetime," the Women's March Network said on its website, noting the Supreme Court's recent refusal to block Texas' six-week abortion ban. "We need to send an unmistakable message about our fierce opposition to restricting abortion access and overturning Roe v. Wade before it's too late." 

Women's March Washington
Demonstrators hold signs during the Women's March rally at Freedom Plaza, in Washington, Saturday, October 2, 2021. Jose Luis Magana / AP

In addition to the main event in Washington, D.C., organizers said more than 600 "sister marches" were held in cities throughout the nation, including Philadelphia, Atlanta and Austin.

In D.C., attendees met at Freedom Plaza near the White House for a "Faith Gathering" on Saturday morning before going to a rally hosted by comedian and activist Cristela Alonzo. The march then started around 1:30 p.m. ET and proceeded to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The reason that many of us are here today is because we want to let people know that we are capable of deciding what is best for us," Alonzo said. "We can decide what is best for us. We can decide what to do with our own bodies. What we're asking for is the right to be treated as a person with their own brain, their own heart, to make decisions that are right for us."

Those who attended the march were required to wear face masks and encouraged to social distance. They also had access to hand sanitizer stations at various locations along the march's route, organizers said.

Women's March Washington
Demonstrators hold signs during the Women's March rally at Freedom Plaza, in Washington, Saturday, October 2, 2021. Jose Luis Magana / AP

The event took place only two days before the Supreme Court is set to reconvene for its October term, where justices will hear politically divisive cases, including abortion.

Speakers at the event included swimmer Schuyler Bailar, activist Monica Simpson, President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health Dr. Jamila Perritt and the CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson. 

"We demand the human right to survive and to thrive," Perritt said to a roaring crowd. "We demand reproductive justice and we will not rest until we get it. Join me in saying that enough is enough."

Actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer attended a march as well.

"Everyone deserves to have a safe and supported abortion, at any time and for any reason," Schumer wrote on Instagram a day before the march.

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