Republican senators were heckled in downtown Washington DC Tuesday evening as they attended a gala hosted by an anti-abortion group celebrating the downfall of Roe vs Wade.
A handful of GOP lawmakers were guests of honour at an event hosted by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion nonprofit organisation named after the famous (and staunchly reglious) women’s rights activist. Among those who attended were both of South Carolina’s US senators, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham.
Roughly 100 protesters gathered outside the National Building Museum late in the afternoon and chanted slogans which included “our bodies our choice”, and “pro-life is a lie, you don’t care if people die”.
Mr Graham’s presence almost certainly contributed to the commotion outside. The Republican senator surprised some of his own colleagues and enraged many more earlier on Tuesday by standing beside those same anti-abortion activists in the Senate and announcing the introduction of a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks into the pregancy, a major step for the movement to criminalise abortion and a reversal of his own position of “leave it to the states” which he espoused only weeks ago.
The introduction of that bill was cited on Tuesday by several protesters outside of the National Building Museum, the gala’s venue, ahead of the actual protest. Some demonstrators were heard predicting that far-right groups would use it as motivation for their voters in November.
The gala attendees, dressed in suits and chic finery, clashed sharply with the casually-clad demonstrators who hecked their arrival with a bass drum, tambourine and angry chants. Some appeared to taunt their detractors from a distance, dancing to the drums or shooting video on their phones, but none had interest in engaging face-to-face.
Those members of Congress who did attend were not among the guests who streamed in the advertised G Street entrance where valets attended to anyone not holding a sign, and therefore probably never saw the protesters or made out the content of their chants; it’s likely that the lawmakers entered the private event through another entrance.
In the background, the office of the Government Accountability Office loomed overhead reflecting the Washington sunset on the federal watchdog’s edifice as well as signs that read “building closed until further notice”, an apt metaphor for the despair that pro-choice demontrators have felt in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gutting of federal abortion protections.