2019 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 50 Players Post-Combine

John Minchillo/Associated Press

50. Jaylen Nowell (Washington, SG, Sophomore)

Nowell combined for 22 points during scrimmages in Chicago, flashing his slashing, mid-range game and improved passing. His shot selection and effort aren’t always inspiring, however. He’ll still have the chance to improve his stock during workouts with a frame that passes the eye test and shot-making skill.

   

49. Terence Davis (Ole Miss, SG, Senior)

Davis advanced from the G League Elite Camp to the NBA combine and continued to produce against second-round picks. His slashing, shot-making and defensive pressure stood out in each of his four scrimmages. He turned 22 years old last week and isn’t a strong shot-creator for a guard. But Davis likely earned himself extra workouts by playing well in Chicago. He comes off as a gritty two-way role player capable of catching fire.

   

48. Eric Paschall (Villanova, SF/PF, Senior)

Paschall and his camp likely figured there was more to lose than gain by scrimmaging at the combine. Scouts have seen plenty by now. He’s a tough matchup at power forward with 6’7¼”, 254-pound size, face-up quickness and a capable three-ball. But he isn’t proficient in any one area, a troublesome sign for a role player who will turn 23 in November.

   

47. Admiral Schofield (Tennessee, SF, Senior)

Schofield looks every part of the 6’5¼”, 240 pounds he measured in Chicago. He’s a power wing coming off a career-best year from three-point range (41.8 percent). Schofield may not offer much as a passer or defender, so he’ll need his shot-making to carry him at the next level.

   

46. Jordan Poole (Michigan, SG, Sophomore)

Poole skipped the scrimmages at the combine after drilling 20 of 25 threes during shooting drills. He won’t be able to use workouts to answer questions about his shot selection, inconsistency and defensive awareness, but he may win a team over with his shot-making.

   

45. Terance Mann (Florida State, SF, Senior)

This is Mann’s first appearance on the board. He stood out at the combine for his ability to make the right plays and reads within the offense, even if it meant going long stretches of an important NBA audition without forcing a shot. Mann will need to show teams he’s capable enough to make the open three, but his glue-guy potential and defense could be optimized by the right team with a second-round pick.

   

44. Charles Matthews (Michigan, SF, Senior)

Matthews scrimmaged at the combine and continued to strengthen his case as a reputable defender. Able to pressure ball-handlers and wings, he’s also quick to react and make plays on the ball. Matthews just hasn’t turned the corner as a shooter, and since he can’t create or make plays, it will be difficult for him to earn a role.

   

43. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF, Junior)

A no-show to the combine, Tillie and his agent could be talking to specific teams and trying to control where he winds up. He only played 15 games (foot injury) and didn’t improve his stock , but the 6’10” junior is a career 47.0 percent three-point shooter, and there is bound to be one general manager who already sees value in the second round.

   

42. Naz Reid (LSU, PF, Freshman)

Reid’s 14.0 percent body fat was the highest figure at the combine, and he struggled during athletic testing, finishing with the slowest shuttle run and a 26-inch standing vertical. He’ll still earn first-round looks as a 6’9½” forward with ball-handling skill, three-point range and speciality shot-making ability off post moves and dribbles. But he’ll need to improve his body, effort and defense before stepping onto an NBA floor.

   

41. Jontay Porter (Missouri, C, Sophomore)

Porter showed up to the combine after tearing his ACL for the second time in a year. He’s down roughly 26 pounds, and his body fat has fallen to 8.5 percent from 13.9 percent at the 2018 combine. Porter was in the top 20 on our board, even after the first knee surgery in October. He built an appealing case as a freshman with shooting, passing IQ and shot-blocking timing. It’s too risky to give Porter a guaranteed contract, but now he’s a potential value pick in the 40s.

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Omani author Jokha Alharthi wins Man Booker International Prize

Omani author Jokha Alharthi has become the first Arabic-language writer to win the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for Celestial Bodies, a novel that deals with family connections and history in the coming-of-age account of three sisters.

Alharthi’s book beat five other shortlisted novels from Europe and South America to take the prize, which celebrates translated fiction from around the world and included a $64,000 award divided equally between author and translator. 

“I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture,” Alharthi told reporters after the ceremony on Tuesday in Britain’s capital, London.

Oman inspired me but I think international readers can relate to the human values in the book – freedom and love,” the 40-year-old added.

Celestial Bodies is set in the Omani village of al-Awafi, home to the three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who is waiting for her beloved who has emigrated to Canada.

The sisters witness Oman’s evolution from a traditional, slave-owning society.

“It touches the subject of slavery. I think literature is the best platform to have this dialogue,” Alharthi said.

Historian Bettany Hughes, who led the five-member judging panel, said that the winning novel was “a book to win over the head and the heart in equal measure.”

“Celestial Bodies evokes the forces that constrain us and those that set us free.”

Alharthi’s translator was US academic Marilyn Booth, who teaches Arabic literature at Oxford University. 

Hughes said the book’s translation was “precise and lyrical, weaving in the cadences of both poetry and everyday speech.”

In a post on Twitter, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she “loved” Alharthi’s book and offered her congratulations.

Alharthi is the author of two previous collections of short fiction, a children’s book and three novels in Arabic.

She studied classical Arabic poetry at Edinburgh University and teaches at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman’s capital, Muscat.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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4 Future NBA Stars Ready to Elevate Lottery Teams Next Season

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    The next wave of NBA stars is coming, and some of them have a chance to illuminate lottery teams with otherwise dim outlooks.

    This is essentially a breakout prediction with a twist: The player’s leap will coincide with his team reaching a new level.

    That doesn’t have to mean a playoff trip. A significant increase in wins will be enough. Remember, the teams we’ll cover have a long way to go before playoff talk is realistic. All of them sat out the 2019 postseason.

    As for the players themselves, the main criteria is that they can’t be established household names yet. No All-Star trips and no All-NBA nods. No previous playoff berths, either. Some of these guys took steps forward last season, and others improved significantly over the course of the year. But in each case, the best is yet to come.

    Oh, and if you’re wondering why Luka Doncic isn’t here, it’s because we’re talking about future stars. The all-but-assured Rookie of the Year averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in his first season, all while regularly commandeering the NBA news cycle with game-winners and triple-doubles. He’s a present star.

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    De’Aaron Fox took a major step forward in his second season, but you’re selling him short if you think that was his breakout.

    The lefty point guard was the only player to average at least 17 points and seven assists while shooting above 37 percent from deep last year, and he’s the first in league history to post those numbers at age 21 or younger. But yes, this is an argument that he’s far from a finished product.

    Fox transformed Sacramento’s offense, leveraging elite speed and natural court vision to make the Kings one of the most exciting uptempo teams in the league. They topped the NBA by using 19.6 percent of their possessions in transition, and they ranked fourth in transition scoring efficiency. Fox drove it all, as his presence on the floor coincided with the largest percentage increase in transition frequency.

    When he played, the Kings ran. A lot.

    In contrast, Sacramento ranked 17th in half-court scoring efficiency. We should expect Fox, who already demonstrated great craft and smarts by dramatically increasing his free-throw rate, to shore up that area next. And though he became a viable threat from deep after shooting only 30.7 percent as a rookie, Fox will truly break defenses when he boosts his long-range volume. At just 2.9 attempts per game last season, he didn’t hoist often enough to create panic in the pick-and-roll.

    Naturally unselfish, it may be difficult for Fox to embrace those pull-up treys when defenders go under screens. But as soon as he starts firing more often, defenses will scramble, the floor will open up, and his vision and speed will instantly become even deadlier.

    Sacramento won 39 games with Fox 2.0. When he upgrades again next year, the league’s longest playoff drought will be over.

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    David Berding/Getty Images

    If Jaren Jackson Jr. stopped developing right now, he’d still be in good company.

    This past season, Myles Turner and Brook Lopez were the only other players who shot at least 35 percent from three and had a block rate above five percent. That floor-stretching, rim-defending skill combo plays in today’s NBA.

    Jackson’s rookie year, which was cut to only 58 games because of a deep thigh bruise he suffered in February, featured flashes of a more complete game than either Turner or Lopez possesses. Sure, it’d be great if Jackson reached Turner’s level on defense, as the Indiana Pacers center led the league in blocks. But Jackson is more mobile and projects as a valuable defender in switching schemes. Usually when a big man deters shots at the rim as well as Jackson does, it coincides with a lack of lateral mobility away from the lane.

    Not so for Memphis’ cornerstone.

    What’s more, Jackson appeared increasingly comfortable putting the ball on the floor as his rookie year progressed. A left-hand-dominant finisher, he shot 72.9 percent inside three feet and showcased an array of scoops and half-hooks. The Grizzlies won’t build an offense around Jackson’s off-the-dribble game, but as defenses become more concerned with his shot in pick-and-pop sets, he’ll have plenty of chances to attack closeouts.

    Rookie averages of 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game were impressive, but Jackson should blow those away in the coming years. Expect him to approach 20 points and 10 boards while ranking among the league leaders in blocks.

    If the Grizzlies unleash him as a full-time center (which may only happen if Jonas Valanciunas moves on), foul trouble may be an issue. But the Grizzlies could push up toward 40 wins if likely draftee Ja Morant establishes quick chemistry with one of the best young bigs in the game.

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Whether you lean on the numbers or trust your gut, it’s easy to make a case for Trae Young’s team-elevating future stardom.

    The rookie point guard endured a frigid opening stretch and holstered his three-point shot for much of December before turning into the defense-shredding lead guard the Atlanta Hawks expected. Young scored 30 or more points only three times in his first 60 games, but he finished the season with six such efforts in his final 21 contests.

    Young had seven games with at least 30 points and 10 assists, more than any rookie since Oscar Robertson. The rookie most closely trailing Young on that list, Stephen Curry, posted five such games in 2009-10. Young had five 30-10 outings in the final six weeks of his rookie year.

    To say Young was trending up as he gained experience immensely understates his progress.

    Numbers aside, Young visibly assumed a rare mantle late in his first season. A threat to pull up from well beyond the arc, he stretched defenses to their breaking points. The Curry comparison is as unavoidable as it is unfair, but it’s difficult to describe the way Young affected opposing game plans without invoking Curry’s high-volume shooting breakout a half-decade ago.

    Crafty enough to draw contact in the lane, gifted with uncommon vision and stronger for having survived a brutal first few weeks, Young appears to be a team-transforming offensive force. For proof, look no further than the Hawks’ 25th-ranked offense before the All-Star break. Afterward, when Young started cooking with gas, Atlanta checked in at No. 11.

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Technically, Zion Williamson isn’t a member of the New Orleans Pelicans yet. But unless the clone of an 18-year-old LeBron James joins the draft pool or some vast overhaul of collegiate sports gives Duke basketball a $200 million payroll, it feels safe to assume Williamson will wind up in New Orleans.

    Once there, he’ll reshape the Pelicans with his incomparable physical skills and always-on motor.

    Though it remains to be seen how NBA defenses will exploit Williamson’s suspect jumper, it’s difficult to imagine any strategy nullifying his open-court rampages and devastating rolls to the rim. If all else fails, Williamson could take on initiator duties in the pick-and-roll.

    Go under the screen, and he gets a head of steam. Chase him over the top, and he’ll turn the corner too quickly for resistance to react. Switch, and invite total domination.

    His combination of bulk and speed leaves no good answers.

    Go ahead, bet against Williamson hitting the league like a sentient, heavily caffeinated wrecking ball. You’ll get great odds.

    If you’d rather take the sure wager, put your money on the best prospect in years immediately transforming an Anthony Davis-less Pelicans squad* into a playoff threat.        

    *Another assumption that feels pretty safe.

           

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Dems struggle to secure testimony from a wary Mueller

Sheila Jackson Lee

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee confirmed that Democrats remain open to both public and private testimony with special counsel Robert Mueller. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Democrats are scrambling to secure Robert Mueller’s public testimony amid concerns from the special counsel and his staff about what he can share publicly related to his Russia investigation, according to key lawmakers and sources familiar with the talks.

Negotiations between Mueller’s team and staff on the Democrat-led Judiciary and Intelligence committees have faltered in recent weeks over the best arrangement for open hearings involving the former FBI director. The sources said Mueller has been reluctant to set a firm date for hearings until he gets further clarity from his Justice Department supervisors about the boundaries for what he can publicly discuss that goes beyond what’s in the redacted 448-page report released last month.

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“Mueller appears to be a by-the-book guy,” said a source familiar with the negotiations between the special counsel’s team and the Democrats. “As such, he needs clarity about what he can and cannot talk about and under what conditions, public or private, he can talk about that.”

“The Justice Department seems attuned to that, and Democrats think DOJ is f—— with him,” the source added.

Democrats have been eager to get Mueller on the record in a public setting — with the gavel-to-gavel live television coverage that comes with it — discussing his work over nearly two years examining Russian interference in the 2016 election and his offshoot probe into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice to stymie that work.

But those efforts to land Mueller have stalled amid a broader fight between Democrats and the Trump administration over access to documents and testimony tied to the special counsel’s efforts. Some Democrats now say that despite their preference for a blockbuster public hearing, they should at least consider allowing some portion of the hearing to be behind closed doors.

“I’ll note that testimony given in private can be used in impeachment proceedings,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said. “I think we have to consider the unique circumstances of each witness as we move forward. So all possibilities in my mind are on the table.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said she thinks it’s important for Americans to hear directly from Mueller but that there may be room to negotiate.

“It is also worthy of considering aspects that would be classified,” she said.

Jackson Lee confirmed in an interview on CNN on Tuesday that Democrats are trying to accommodate the special counsel and remain open to both public and private testimony with Mueller if that makes it easier for the Russia investigator.

The Texas congresswoman added that Democratic committee attorneys have been in direct talks with the special counsel’s office, rather than his DOJ supervisors.

“I think what is important is to make Mr. Mueller comfortable in the open setting,” Jackson Lee said. “Obviously, there should be many options. There may be an option of doing both an open setting and a closed setting.

“We want not Mr. Mueller’s very attractive presence, but we want the truth and the facts and the basis of Volume 2, which is that he left many of these issues of obstruction of justice to the Congress,” she added. “That means we have to do our job, and to do our job it’s important to have him as a witness.”

Not all members of the Judiciary Committee are open to private testimony from Mueller.

“I think it’s important that Mr. Mueller come before the committee, but I also think it’s important to come before the committee and testify in public,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said. “The American people have a right to hear Mr. Mueller walk through the Mueller report — the findings he made, the conclusions he came to, the evidence he collected.

“They have a right to see the results of this investigation and to really hear from the individual who led it.”

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler last week said there’d be no Mueller hearing before the Memorial Day recess, meaning that testimony from the special counsel would need to wait until June at the earliest.

The New York Democrat had set a tentative May 23 deadline for Mueller to publicly testify in a letter last month after the release of a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report.

But Nadler conceded that a delay would be necessary for his panel, which has been stuck in a broader fight with the White House over access to documents and testimony tied to the Russia investigation.

Among the issues that have prompted the breakdown in talks between Mueller and the Democratic committees: Trump earlier this month wrote on Twitter that Mueller “should not testify” and his administration has invoked or threatened to invoke executive privilege on a range of outstanding congressional requests, including for access to a full, unredacted version of the special counsel’s report and its underlying evidence.

In an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, Attorney General William Barr said it’s up to Mueller to decide whether to appear before lawmakers. “It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify,” said Barr, who Nadler’s Judiciary Committee earlier this month voted to hold in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over a copy of the full Mueller report.

So far, Democrats and Mueller have yet to reach an agreement on the details or timing for a hearing with the special counsel. Peter Carr, a Mueller spokesman, declined comment when asked Tuesday about the special counsel making a public appearance before lawmakers.

Mueller remains a government employee and still has a small staff assisting him with closing down his office. But that designation, according to Greg Brower, the former head of the FBI congressional affairs office, may be part of the holdup in securing the special counsel’s testimony.

“I’m beginning to think that Mueller should resign from DOJ and simply decide what he wants to say,” Brower said.

He noted that Mueller’s work is already public except for the redacted materials in the report – which covers classified information, grand jury testimony, materials related to ongoing investigations and details that shield “peripheral third parties” from reputational damage. All of that should be off the table during a public hearing.

“If he waits for DOJ guidance, I’m afraid he will never get it,” Brower said.

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HUD Chief Ben Carson Needs Congress To Explain Basic Housing Terms

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson raised eyebrows Tuesday when he struggled to describe basic terms related to the agency he oversees during a hearing before a congressional panel.

The former neurosurgeon, who had zero experience in housing before President Donald Trump nominated him to lead HUD in December 2016, appeared visibly flustered while answering questions about his department’s policies before the House Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) asked Carson about services offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an agency housed under HUD, and government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), which are financial services corporations created by Congress such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But Carson drew several blanks.

Porter: Do you know what the interest rate curtailment schedule is at FHA and how it’s different from the GSEs?

Carson: Well, we tend to try and maintain a lower interest rate at FHA ―

Porter: I’m not asking you about the interest rate, sir. I’m asking you about debenture interest curtailment penalties.

Carson: Explain.

An exasperated Porter then described to the HUD secretary how an agency he oversees functions, pointing out that servicing for nonperforming mortgages is triple the cost of the equivalent servicing at GSEs for a nonperforming loan.

“That tripling of costs in servicing … has the effect of reducing the credit availability to the American people,” Porter said. ”It makes the loans more expensive for the very homeowners that FHA is designed to serve.”

“So my question I’m trying to drive at here is why is FHA ― to use a term that I think we can both understand ― lousy at serving mortgages?” she asked.

Carson responded that he hasn’t had “any discussions about that particular issue but I will look it up, find out what’s going on.”

Mortgage servicing, essentially how a bank manages the loans it makes, played a major role in last decade’s nationwide housing crisis.

Porter continued to pepper Carson with basic questions about HUD’s operations and policies, including whether he knows what an REO is.

“An Oreo?” Carson responded.

“No, not an Oreo,” Porter said. “An R-E-O. R-E-O.”

Carson tried again, “Real estate.”

“What’s the ‘O’ stand for?” Porter asked, prompting Carson to mutter something unclear, which sounded like “E-organization.”

Porter, putting an end to Carson’s awkward guessing game, explained that REO stands for real estate owned, which is what happens when a property goes into foreclosure.

“FHA loans have much higher REO loans ― that is they go to foreclosure rather than to loss mitigation or to non-foreclosure alternatives like short sales than comparable loans at the GSEs,” she said. “I’d like to know why we’re having more foreclosures that end in people losing their homes … at FHA than we are at the GSEs?”

Carson didn’t have an answer, instead offering Porter to “work with the people who do that.” But the freshman lawmaker informed Carson that she performed that very function before being elected to Congress last year.

Porter also asked Carson how HUD plans to change the conveyance process at FHA to address loss recovery differential between FHA loans and GSE loans. But that question was also too difficult for the Housing and Urban Development secretary.

“You’re getting way down in the weeds here,” Carson said, referring to one of his department’s core focuses. “If I got down in the weeds on every issue I wouldn’t get very far.”

Porter ripped into Carson in a statement to HuffPost hours later, stating his “stammering would be funny if it weren’t so scary.”

“In my role as monitor of the big bank settlement during the subprime mortgage meltdown, I saw the human devastation of the 2008 crisis up close,” she said in her statement. “Secretary Carson’s ignorance of the agency he oversees is a slap in the face to the American public, which entrusts him to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“I was willing to give Secretary Carson the benefit of the doubt, but his confusion over basic HUD functions was deeply distressing,” she added.

But Carson didn’t seem embarrassed or ashamed by his apparent cluelessness about HUD services that millions of Americans are depending on for assistance. He tweeted after the hearing that he planned to send Porter a box of Oreos.

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At rare UN news conference, North Korea warns US over seized ship

The ambassador of North Korea to the United Nations has warned the United States that its “outrageous” seizure of a cargo ship could have consequences on the future of US-North Korean relations, as he reiterated a demand for the immediate return of the vessel.

The Wise Honest, North Korea’s second largest cargo ship, was first detained in April 2018 by Indonesia while transporting a large amount of coal. The US announced on May 9 that it had confiscated the vessel because it was carrying coal in violation of UN sanctions, a first-of-its kind enforcement action that came amid a delicate moment in relations with North Korea.

In a rare press conference on Tuesday, Ambassador Kim Song said that Pyongyang was closely monitoring Washington’s “every move” following the seizure, which he said was aimed at bringing maximum pressure on his country to make it “kneel down”.

“The United States should deliberate and think over the consequences its outrageous acts might have on the future development,” Kim said.

North Korea says ship seizure by US illegal, demands immediate return

The ambassador urged the US to immediately return the ship, describing the seizure as an “outright denial of the underlying spirit” of a joint statement by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their first summit in Singapore last year “which committed to establishing new bilateral relations”.

At the summit, Trump promised “security guarantees” to Pyongyang and Kim recommitted to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

A second summit between the two leaders in late February 2019 in Vietnam collapsed over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament. The US has called on its allies to maintain economic pressure on North Korea until it takes material steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons.

The North Korean leader has since aired his displeasure with short-range missile testsapparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul, and declared that the Trump administration has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the negotiations.

INSIDE STORY: Why did Pyongyang fire new missiles?

Kim, the ambassador, told reporters that the ship seizure is the “product of an extreme hostile policy of the United States against the DPRK,” the initials of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He accused the US of violating international law and the 2004 UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property.

Kim reiterated that he has asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take “urgent measures” to contribute to stability on the Korean Peninsula, but refused to answer a question on what measures.

The ambassador listened to about a dozen other questions, including the effect of the seizure of the ship on prospects for a third Kim-Trump summit and on relations between North Korea and South Korea, whether the ship was carrying contraband, the effect of US and UN sanctions, and whether the North would apologise for the death of US student Otto Warmbier

Kim said he would not answer questions not related to the seizure of the Wise Honest but then only repeated some points from his statement.

He ended the news conference saying: “We’ll sharply watch the reaction of the United States.”

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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‘Stop the bans’: Abortion rights activists rally across the US

New York City – Thousands of abortion rights activists across the United States took to the streets, town squares and courthouses on Tuesday to protest against a recent wave of anti-abortion laws passed in several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri.

#StopTheBans protests were organised by more than 50 organisations, including the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) Pro-Choice America and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“We are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access,” organisers said in a statement.

“This is Trump’s anti-abortion extremism and it’s terrifying, particularly for communities of colour and low-income communities who are most affected by these bans.”

Activists and others gather in major cities across the US, including New York City, Washington, DC, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

Dozens of protesters chanted and sang songs outside the Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, holding signs that read, “My body, my choice” and “I am in charge of my body”.

abortion USA

Women listen to speeches as they take part in an abortion rights rally in front of the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village of New York on May 21, 2019 [Timothy Clary/AFP]

In Washington, DC, hundreds protested outside the Supreme Court building.

“This nation was built on the backs and grown in the wombs of women, and our rights are not up for debate,” Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley told the crowd.

“We are here to say, enough is enough,” said Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic congresswoman who is running in the 2020 presidential election. “We are not going to allow them to move our country backwards,” she said.

Wave of bans

In the first quarter of 2019, at least 28 state legislatures introduced some version of an abortion ban, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and research and policy organisation. The Guttmacher Institute said that although that number is essentially the same as last year, “the extreme nature of this year’s bills is unprecedented”. 

Last week, Alabama’s governor signed the strictest abortion law in the US, making abortion illegal in nearly all cases including rape and incest. Doctors who perform an abortion could face up to 99 years in jail.

The earliest the law can go into effect is in November, and rights groups have vowed to challenge it in court.

Several states, including Ohio, Louisiana and Kentucky, have also passed so-called “heartbeat laws” that ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant. Rights groups have challenged or plan to challenge the laws in the courts.

“The health and well-being of women is of little concern to the politicians championing these laws, who come from states with some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country,” said Jennifer Dalven, the ACLU’s reproductive freedom project director.

“The ACLU, on behalf of our millions of members, is proud to join today with our partners to fight these bans in court, on the street, and with our votes on Election Day,” she told Al Jazeera.

Abortion - United States

August Mulvihill, of Norwalk, Iowa, holds a sign during a rally to protest recent abortion bans at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Many anti-abortion rights advocates, expecting the restrictions will be challenged, want the Supreme Court to revisit the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which legalised abortion. Many feel that with a more conservative court, include two justices nominated by Republican President Donald Trump, they have a chance at having the ruling overturned.

But #StopTheBan organisers describe the laws as an “unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish those who need access to abortion”.

Anti-abortion rights activists across the country criticised Tuesday’s protests, saying they were part of “the extreme pro-abortion agenda”.

“For someone who recognises a precious brother or sister in every unborn child, it’s encouraging to see states passing laws that reflect that reality,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-life Action League.

“At the same time, it’s deeply troubling to see so many thousands take to the streets this week denouncing the very idea that those unborn lives have any value at all,” he told Al Jazeera.

Abortion - United States

A protester holds up her arm with ‘My Body My Choice’ written on it during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building [Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/AFP] 

But many abortion rights activists vowed to continue to protest in the streets

“The rally ‘ended’ 30 minutes ago, but we’re still here – raising our voices because this is important!” tweeted the Women’s March Minnesota – a state whose legislature is considering restrictions.

“Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a right,” protesters chanted.

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