FAQ: Women’s March ‘Rally for Abortion Justice’ in DC on Saturday

The Women’s March returns to the streets of D.C. this October. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Q: Who is organizing the march?
  • Though the Women’s March has hundreds of chapters that organize locally across the country, D.C. events are often spearheaded by the group’s national organizing board who have coordinated yearly marches since the original in 2017. Their latest march will be held alongside Planned Parenthood and dozens of other women’s advocacy groups including Ultraviolet, NARAL and EMILY’s List.

  • Q: When is it?
  • A faith gathering will be held in Freedom Plaza ahead of the rally at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. Organizers are asking those who are attending the march to arrive around 11 a.m. if they are not attending the prior faith gathering.

    At 12 p.m., comedian and activist Cristela Alonzo will host a rally featuring speakers from around the country. There will be live and prerecorded speeches and musical presentations as well as displays. Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra have been invited to attend.

    At 2 p.m., a march to the Supreme Court will begin via Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues. In their permit application, organizers said they expect around 10,000 people to attend.

  • Q: Why are they marching?
  • The Women’s March has a list of progressive causes that it champions, but this event is being put on as a direct response to a near-total ban on abortions in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to intervene and block the legislation, but declined to do so, sparking protests in D.C. and across the country. The march’s organizers said they feel that this is an early indication that Roe v. Wade could soon come under fire.

    Saturday’s event marks the group’s return to the streets after choosing to go virtual this January in lieu of a physical march. It will be the group’s first D.C. march since last October, when they rallied against President Donald Trump’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

  • Q: What roads will be closed?
  • D.C. police have posted the following streets as “Emergency No Parking” from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday:

    • Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th Street to 3rd Street NW
    • 14th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to F Street NW
    • 13th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to F Street NW
    • E Street from 12th Street from 14th Street NW

    The following streets will be closed to vehicle traffic from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday:

    • Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th Street to 12th Street NW
    • 14th Street from Constitution Avenue to F Street NW
    • 13th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to F Street NW
    • E Street from 12th Street from 14th Street NW
    • Pennsylvania Avenue from 14th Street to 3rd Street NW will be closed to traffic from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

    Police said street closures and listed times are subject to change; drivers are asked to follow posted signs. All vehicles deemed in violation of emergency no-parking signage will be ticketed and towed.

  • Q: What about the pandemic?
  • The Women’s March said all participants will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. However, the number of attendees could make social distancing a challenge. Organizers plan to provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the march.

    Anyone who feels ill is being asked to stay home and join one of the virtual events instead.

  • Q: Is there a dress code?
  • On their march FAQ, the Women’s March asked attendees not to wear the red hoods and white hoods inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and to avoid coat hanger imagery evocative of abortions.

    “Handmaid” outfits have become popular among women’s rights demonstrators since the launch of the novel’s Hulu adaptation, which depicts a junta of theocrats deposing the U.S. government.

    “The use of Handmaid’s Tale imagery to characterize the controlling of women’s reproduction has proliferated, primarily by white women across the country, since the show has gained popularity,” the Women’s March explained.

    “This message continues to create more fragmentation, often around race and class, because it erases the fact that Black women, undocumented women, incarcerated women, poor women and disabled women have always had their reproduction freedom controlled in this country.”

    Handmaids Army DC, a group of such activists that don the outfits, acknowledged the request.

    “We respect their right to shape the message of the events they organize. And we acknowledge that our demonstrations elicit valid mixed responses from observers, just as the pink pussy hats employed by the Women’s March did,” Handmaids Army DC said on its website.

    “It is clear that while we share some goals and principles with the organizers of the Women’s March, we also have increasingly divergent agendas and methods.”

    WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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