United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with 16 other members of Congress were arrested on Wednesday, 20 July, while they were protesting for abortion rights in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC.
The US Capitol Police confirmed that they have arrested a total of 35 protesters, including 17 members of Congress.
However, as per CPD Action, the protest-centered arm of social justice organisation Center for Popular Democracy, a total of 18 members of Congress were arrested, out of which 17 were women. Andy Levin of Michigan was the only congressman among the arrested, reported The Guardian.
The arrested Congress members include Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Carolyn Maloney, and Cori Bush, among others.
The leaders were caught on camera chanting “our bodies, our choice” and “we won’t go back” as they gathered in front of the US Capitol building, before proceeding to the Supreme Court.
"Proud to march with my Democratic colleagues and get arrested for women’s rights, abortion rights, the rights for people to control their own bodies and the future and our democracy!" said US Representative (California) Jackie Speier.
Upon her arrest, Congresswoman Maloney said that "There is no democracy if women do not have control over their own bodies and decision about their own health, including reproductive care. I have the privilege of representing a state where reproductive care is respected and protected – the least I can do is put my body on the line for the 33 million women at risk of losing their rights."
She further attacked the Republican Party and 'right-wing extremists' responsible for the decision by saying that they are not pro-life but pro-controlling bodies of women. "Their ultimate goal is to institute a national ban on abortion." she added.
Roe vs Wade
The US Supreme Court on 24 June overturned Roe vs Wade, a landmark case that constitutionally protected abortion rights of women for almost 50 years.
Restrictions on abortions are expected in about half of the Republican-ruled states in the country.
However, earlier this month, United States President Joe Biden signed an executive order protecting access to reproductive healthcare services in order to ease access to abortions.
The executive order directed the government's health department to expand access to "medication abortion" – pills prescribed to end pregnancies – and ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services, and contraception.
It also advocated protecting doctors, women who travel for abortions, and mobile abortion clinics at state borders.
(With inputs from The Guardian.)