LA Women’s March draws thousands together in support of abortion rights
Thousands of protesters gathered in Grand Park outside Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday for the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally. The Women’s March Foundation and Planned Parenthood organized the rally to voice their support for abortion and reproductive rights. (Anika Chakrabarti/Assistant Photo editor)
This post was updated May 16 at 12:06 a.m.
Thousands of people gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday in support of abortion rights and to protest the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The Women’s March Foundation, Planned Parenthood and their partners organized the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally as a part of a series of nationwide rallies. The rally was held at Grand Park in downtown LA.
On May 2, Politico released a draft majority opinion indicating that the United States Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey both guarantee a constitutional right to abortion.
The rally began at 10 a.m., with speakers including Women’s March Foundation founder Emiliana Guereca, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, California first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and other politicians. Several actresses such as Constance Wu and Joely Fisher also spoke at the rally.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood, said the organization came to the rally to stand with its policy and advocacy groups and to make sure that Planned Parenthood patients have the support they need.
Johnson, who is also the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the fund plans to mobilize approximately 20 million of its supporters to ensure every elected official is being held accountable for their decisions and votes on protecting access to abortion care.
“We are grieving the fact that we are going to lose a constitutional right – one that we have held for 49 years – and so we need to be together,” she said. “We need to be a community.”
Actress Constance Marie said at the rally that she had two abortions when there was no fetal heartbeat and miscarriages would have otherwise followed.
“Without access to an abortion, I would not be able to heal,” Marie said.
Garcetti said at the rally that LA is a safe haven for reproductive freedom and reproductive rights.
He chanted with the crowd, “LA is pro-choice. We are a sanctuary. LA is pro-health and we are a sanctuary. LA is pro-freedom. We are a sanctuary.”
In California, lawmakers have proposed adding the right to choose whether to have an abortion to the state constitution, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
If the California Legislature approves putting the amendment on the ballot, state voters will get to choose if it becomes law in the November elections, according to NBC.
“I want you to vote as though your lives depend on it because they do,” said Gloria Allred, a women’s rights attorney, at the rally.
Wendy Carrillo, an assembly member who represents northeast LA and East LA, said she will always stand for reproductive rights and freedom for women.
“It’s my hope that as a Latina legislator for the state of California and someone that is formally undocumented and comes from the country of El Salvador – which is one of three nations in the world that incarcerate women for having a miscarriage – that we, in the Latino community, have honest and real conversations about comprehensive reproductive health care and the right to an abortion,” Carrillo said.
At the rally, individuals held up signs with phrases such as, “We are not going back,” “Keep abortion legal” and “Keep it legal, keep it safe.”
A small group of anti-abortion ralliers also gathered to the side of the main stage and exchanged opposing chants with abortion rights ralliers.
Several attendees at the event said they want the rally to bring awareness to the need to safeguard reproductive rights.
Rally attendee Daniela Salazar said she hopes the rally will push politicians to protect abortion rights. Another rally participant, Laylaa Wells, said that even though she is not a U.S. citizen, attending the rally was a way to make her voice heard.
“I felt guilty because as someone who has had an abortion, I felt like … my actions and my choices were being contested upon and I was being painted as a criminal and women around the country were being made to look evil,” Salazar said.
Other attendees expressed similar sentiments.
“When I heard (the draft decision), I was so furious and so sick to my stomach that I would have to go through this,” said Vivian Morse, another attendee of the rally. “Our families have fought for this. Women throughout years and years, … we’ve been fighting for so long and we’re so tired.”
Joanne Bui, a rally attendee, said she was shocked to read the opinion and felt it was badly written, which showed how extreme the draft is.
Hayden Mountcastle, an epidemiology graduate student and an attendee at the rally, said he came to the rally to support all the women in his life who would be impacted if abortion rights were overturned.
“I think abortion is a matter of health, for women and for society in general. So I think everyone should be out here, man or woman,” Mountcastle said.
The rally ended with a speech from the president of the Women’s March organization followed by organizers and attendees chanting “Vote” and “Protect Roe v. Wade.”
Contributing reports from Christine Tran, National news and higher education editor.