It didn’t take long after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade for hundreds of people to congregate in the shadow of a federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, June 24.
One person hoisted a sign that read: “Trust me with a child but not a choice?” Another simply said, “Trust women.”
The Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights rally in sunny Los Angeles was just one of several protests and demonstrations held in Southern California Friday as the high court’s decision caused shock waves across the nation. At some rallies, people were weary and afraid of what the court could do next. But at others, people were elated and considered the day one for celebration.
During rush hour Friday evening, more protesters walked onto the northbound side of the 110 Freeway at Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department officials said. They also marched through the downtown’s streets.
Natalie Torres called out of work in Pasadena to protest the Supreme Court’s decision. From Brazil, Torres said she was inspired by Latin American countries that have decriminalized abortion despite having predominantly Catholic citizens.
“Why can’t America look like that,” she said.
Pomona resident Lisa Tate said she felt empowered to come out today in support of women making their own personal health choices. pic.twitter.com/a0Zi8gKWAm
— Javier Rojas (@TheeJavierRojas) June 25, 2022
Mid City resident Kayla Esmond told the crowd she underwent an abortion procedure in Arkansas that saved her life.
“I got a lot of regrets, but abortion ain’t one of them,” Esmond said. “I was lucky to be a white woman with $600 in Arkansas when it was still legal, because there are so many people that, even when it was legal, were not able to access abortion, and they suffered for it.”
That is why people must flood the streets in protest, she said.
But outside the Riverside County Superior Court historic courthouse in downtown Riverside the air was more cheerful, spirited, with a live band playing worship music as a group rallied with signs that said “Roe is No More” and “We are the pro-life generation.”
A group in support of today’s #SCOTUS ruling is rallying, praying and worshipping outside the Riverside County courthouse. Some with “Roe is No More” signs and pro-life shirts. #RoeVsWade #abortion @pressenterprise pic.twitter.com/2yATUfG5Qr
— Allyson V (@heyallysonrae) June 25, 2022
Joe Slovenec drove to downtown Riverside from San Clemente to participate and celebrate, though added, “in California, this doesn’t feel as much of a victory.
“But this nation cannot continue to allow this kind of killing going on, sanctioned by the federal government,” he said. “God is so good.”
Several miles west in El Monte, standing outside a Planned Parenthood facility, Glendy Perez said the court’s decision was an answer to prayers.
“We are so overjoyed that a decision like that was made,” Perez said. “We think justice is taking place.”
And in Torrance, a few dozen anti-abortion activists gathered at the intersection of Sepulveda and Hawthorne Boulevards, maintaining the court’s move was long overdue.
An anti-abortion group gathered on Peck Road, outside the plaza where Planned Parenthood is located, in El Monte. The group is celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion on Friday. Photo: Saumya Gupta, SCNG
“We’re so happy it’s reversed. We’re celebrating,” Annette LeRoux, a longtime resident, said.
Down the street from the Riverside pro-life rally, the air was charged at a large candlelight vigil organized by the local Planned Parenthood and pro-choice organizations outside of the Riverside City Hall.
Impassioned speeches were given in front of a plaque, engraved with a Benjamin Franklin quote about freedom of speech. People of all ages carried homemade “Bans Off Our Bodies” signs, and wore pro-choice shirts.
Kathryn Pegan, 41, from Riverside, brought her son, 7-year-old Cliff, to the rally. Pegan said she talks to Cliff about “the importance of being able to make choices for your own body.”
Cliff carried a homemade “reproductive rights are human rights” sign.
Kathryn Pegan brought her 7yrold, & talked about “the importance of being able to make choices for your own body.”
— Allyson V (@heyallysonrae) June 25, 2022
“That’s why we’re here,” Pegan said. “I think (the SCOTUS ruling) is not going to stop abortions. It’s going to stop safe medical abortions, and it’s going to cause more women and people with uteruses to harm themselves very, badly, or potentially die from trying to get illegal or home abortions, because they feel they have no other access or choice.”
Liz Rangel, a pastor at Four Square Church in Colton, said she has had abortions in the past, and remembers the procedures being normalized during the time Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973.
“I lived in regret and shame for over 30 years, I became a drug addict. I became lost, and I know a lot of mothers that have shared their experience and shared their stories,” Rangel, from Riverside, said. “The aftermath of an abortion affects a woman, a mom, for the rest of their lives.”
Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties organized several concurrent protests in its communities for 6 p.m. Friday. Very quickly a couple hundred people had gathered at an Irvine corner and also at Main Beach in Laguna Beach, the crowds growing with the evening.
The protests aimed to send the message “we’re not going to back down,” said Sadaf Rahmani, the organization’s public affairs director, while surrounded in Irvine by people chanting “Hands off my body” and “We won’t go back.”
Adrianna Burton, a doctoral student at UC Irvine, said it was important for her to be at the protest, adding that it would be “wrong to be anywhere else.”
For people who may not agree with her and other pro-abortion rights protesters, she said she hopes people think about “if they had a daughter” and what they would want for her.
“I can’t believe that we have to go through this fight again, generations before us have fought this’” Rahmani said. “And now it’s our turn.”
Deborah Winj, an obstetrics gynecologist, said Friday was a “dismal” and “dark day in American history.”
Encouraging people to go out and vote, she said, “That’s the only way we’re going to get control of this situation back.”
Upland couple Tyler Diogo and David McCormick were among more than 100 people who took over Foothill Boulevard in Claremont in reaction to the ruling they fear could have boarder implications down the road when it comes to same-sex marriage.
“We’re possibly gonna lose our marriage over this, because of the way they overturned this,” Diogo said.
Despite the anger, sadness and fear that many are experiencing in the wake of the court’s decision, Lisa Del Sesto, a coordinator for the Long Beach-Orange County chapter of Women Rising, said it’s important to put those feeling aside moving forward.
“Don’t feel hopeless, feel empowered,” she said at a protest in Long Beach, “and know that you can take actions and you can be part of the change for the future.”
More Roe v. Wade coverage
Southern California responds to Supreme Court dismantling Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade is dead. Can you still get an abortion in California?
Gov. Gavin Newsom vows to protect, expand abortion access
How US states have banned, limited or protected abortion