Women, allies among thousands march for abortion rights in San Diego, Southland

San Diego Hall of Justice
Protesters in downtown San Diego showed their support for reproductive rights on Saturday. Photo credit: OnScene.TV

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Saturday in San Diego and across Southern California as part of a nationwide effort to show support for abortion rights.

The protests came as the U.S. Supreme Court was apparently about to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In San Diego, protesters gathered on opposite sides of Broadway, at the downtown Hall of Justice and near the federal courthouse, waving signs with slogans like “No choice? No peace!” and “Welcome to California, where abortion is safe and still legal.”

“What a wonderful day to be here again fighting for our reproductive rights,” lawyer Mehry Mohseni said at the rally leading up to the march.

The protesters were preparing to leave when a few counter-protesters lined up on a median on Broadway, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade must go!” and “Pro-life, pro-women.”

The number of people fell short of the 7,000 expected protesters in San Diego, according to OnScene.TV, but still ran into the thousands.

The Women’s March Foundation hosted “Bans Off Our Bodies” rallies in San Diego, outside Los Angeles City Hall, in Riverside, and across the region.

Speakers at the LA event included Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla, D-California, and Representatives Karen Bass and Maxine Waters, both Democrats of Los Angeles.

“LA is for women, and we’re a haven,” Garcetti said.

Rallies were scheduled for Saturday across the US, including several in the Los Angeles area, including Pasadena, Long Beach and Catalina Island.

Abortion advocates in downtown San Diego show support for reproductive rights, while a small group of counter-protesters held up anti-abortion signs. Photo credit: OnScene.TV

In Orange County, several thousand people showed up in Santa Ana. Speakers included Lt. gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine.

At the same time, the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights had planned rallies in 41 US cities, including two in Los Angeles and one in Orange County.

The Rise Up rallies included a march to participate in nearby “Bans Off Our Bodies” events, and were scheduled in front of the US Courthouse in downtown LA, Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana and Venice Beach.

The demonstrations, which had been planned for months, were given a new sense of urgency in early May after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Judge Samuel Alito showed that the court had voted to overthrow Roe v. Wade.

That ruling is not yet final, but is expected to be pronounced in the next two months.

If the Supreme Court decision becomes final, it would destroy one of the most talked about Supreme Court rulings of the past century. However, despite some fierce opposition to Roe v. Wade, the ruling establishing women’s access to abortion is supported by a majority of Americans.

A CNN poll in January found that only 30% of Americans supported the Supreme Court to completely overthrow Roe v. Wade, while 69% opposed it.

CNN reported that the poll’s finding was consistent with other recent polls and historical trends. The network also noted that since it began polls in 1989, public support for the complete overthrow of Roe has never risen above 36%.

Roe v. Wade guarantees abortion rights across the country until a fetus is viable, usually between 22 and 24 weeks. Undoing the decision would take away federal protections for abortion rights and leave it to individual states to set abortion policies.

Famously liberal California is unlikely to take steps to ban or restrict access to abortion, and discussions are underway to make the state a safe haven for women across the country to pursue reproductive health care.

Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, and Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood have offered their support for creating a California constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to abortion in the state.

Newsom has also proposed expanding access to abortion services, including covering uncompensated care for people who do not have insurance covering the procedure.

The Supreme Court’s pending decision stems from the Mississippi Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. In a 2018 challenge to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Mississippi passed a law banning abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.

– Staff and wire reports

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