The 2021 Women's March kicked off Saturday with 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 the Trump 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.
In addition to the main event in Washington, D.C., organizers said hundreds of "sister marches" were taking place in cities and towns across the country.
"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' 6-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."
Attendees on Saturday met at Freedom Plaza, near the White House, for a "Faith Gathering" at 10 a.m. ET, and a rally hosted by comedian and activist Cristela Alonzo began at 12 p.m. ET. The march then commenced 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 attending the march are required to wear face masks, are encouraged to social distance and will have access to hand sanitizer stations at various locations throughout the march's route, organizers said.
Speakers at the event included swimmer Schuyler Bailar, activist Monica Simpson, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health Dr. Jamila Perritt, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson among others.
"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."