Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the Southland Saturday as part of a nationwide effort to protect abortion rights, with the U.S. Supreme Court apparently poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The Women’s March Foundation said it received more than 50,000 signups for the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally outside Los Angeles City Hall, which began at 10 a.m.
Speakers at the event included Mayor Eric Garcetti; Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California; Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles; attorney Gloria Allred; state Sen. Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles; Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles president and CEO Sue Dunlap and actors Ricki Lake, Lisa Ann Walter and Christine Lahti.
“Wealthy women and well-connected women will have the resources to travel to another state to have an abortion, while women of color, poor women of color across this country, are going to suffer and are going to die as a consequence” Martinez said, describing the potential effects should the court overturn Roe v. Wade. “Women of color have limited access to resources and cannot afford to take one day out of work to go have a procedure in another state.”
“LA is for women, and we are a sanctuary,” Garcetti said.
The demonstration was “peaceful” and there were no arrests as of 1:30 p.m., Officer Rosario Cervantes of the Los Angeles Police Department told City News Service.
The rally, which had been planned for months, gained a new sense of urgency at the beginning of May following a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that revealed the court privately voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That ruling is not yet final, but is expected to be handed down in the next month or two.
Rallies were planned across the United States on Saturday, including several locally:
— at Pasadena City Hall at 8 a.m.;
— at Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach at 10 a.m.;
— at Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates at 10 a.m.;
— Sherman Oaks Galleria at 10 a.m.;
— at Foothill and North Indian Hill boulevards in Claremont at 1 p.m.;
— at the base of Green Pier in Avalon at 10 a.m.
In Orange County, a few thousand people turned out for a 10 a.m. rally at Centennial Park in Santa Ana. Speakers included Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine.
Concurrently, the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights had protest rallies scheduled for 41 U.S. cities, including two in Los Angeles, and one in Orange County.
The Rise Up rallies included a march to join nearby “Bans Off Our Bodies” events, and were scheduled for:
— U.S. Courthouse in downtown LA at 9 a.m.;
— Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana at 9:30 a.m.;
— Venice Beach at noon.
If the Supreme Court’s decision does become final, it would strike down one of the most debated Supreme Court rulings of the past century. However, despite some vocal opposition to Roe v. Wade, the ruling establishing women’s access to abortion is supported by a majority of Americans.
A CNN poll conducted by SSRS in January found that just 30% of Americans supported the Supreme Court completely overturning Roe v. Wade, while 69% opposed it. CNN reported that the poll’s finding was consistent with other recent polls and historical trends, and that since the network began polling in 1989, public support for completely overturning Roe has never gone past 36%.
Roe v. Wade guarantees abortion rights throughout the United States until a fetus is viable, typically between 22 and 24 weeks. Overturning the decision would strip away federal protection of abortion rights, and leave it up to individual states to set abortion policy.
Famously liberal California is unlikely to take steps to ban or limit access to abortion, and discussions have already been under way about using the state as a safe haven for women across the country to pursue reproductive health care.
Gov. Gavin Newsom; Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego; and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood; have voiced support for creating a constitutional amendment in California to guarantee the right to abortion in the sate. Newsom has also proposed expanding access to abortion services, including by covering uncompensated care for people who don’t have insurance that covers abortions.
“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women — not just those in California — know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision stems from the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a challenge to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Mississippi passed a law in 2018 prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.