SAN FRANCISCO (CBSSF) – Thousands of people marched and rallied in San Francisco in support of reproductive rights and the San Mateo County Superintendent issued a statement in favor of pro-choice havens on Saturday.
The measures came in response to the leak earlier this month of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn the landmark 1973 abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade.
Since the leak, activists in the Bay Area have been responding with a variety of actions on both sides of the issue.
There have been abortion rallies before – for and against – but Saturday’s rally was larger than most as abortion rights advocates in the Gulf region joined a nationwide protest.
“It’s huge and we’re very happy,” said Ruth Robertson of Raging Grannies Action League. “It’s not just the East Coast, it’s Chicago, it’s Texas, and it’s in small towns and big cities and San Francisco had to be a part of this. There’s no way San Francisco won’t be a big part of it and we’re a big part of it.”
That’s enough! We felt so good,” Telega Hagod told the assembled crowd at the Civic Center Main Library. The national reproductive justice regulator said everyone should be realistic about the direction the court is taking.
“I think people need to start accepting the hard truth of recognizing that this leak is the decision of the justices of the Supreme Court,” she said. “We can still fight, we can still move, we can still make noise in the streets, but doing it with the knowledge that they made their decision — and that is where they stand — will empower people a lot.”
With that, thousands of Civic Center walked onto Market Street, heading to the waterfront. Among them was Janice Campbell of Auckland, who said that while the abortion debate was not over, she believed it had been decided as a legal issue.
“I was in law school when it was settled, and we all assumed it would last forever, but we didn’t think religious fanatics would take over the court and our way of life would be destroyed,” she said.
Those old enough to remember when Roe v. Wade was founded in 1973 understand how contentious the case has been and has been ever since.
“I feel like we’ve been struggling for the last 50 years to maintain this position,” said Catherine Wilson of Palo Alto. “I feel threatened for a long time.”
Younger women, like San Francisco’s Cassie Barry, grew up with the idea of abortion as a constitutional right and now face the possibility that this may no longer be true.
“I can’t believe we’re in 2022 walking for abortion rights,” Barry said. “When I grew up, this was something that was protected and something that I knew I could access and that I know was now threatening to me and our children and our granddaughters is terrifying.”
Some advocate a federal law that would legalize abortion nationally. A recent CBS poll showed that 58 percent of Americans support this idea, while 42 percent oppose it.
By design, the Supreme Court is the only branch of government that is not supposed to be influenced by public opinion. So how much impact can mass protest rallies have?
San Francisco-based Angela A. believes that won’t change any justice’s opinion but feels that if people become more politically active they can influence future court appointments, even if the process seems painfully slow to some.
“They are making their way. Republicans have been planning this for decades,” she said. “They are winning now but that doesn’t mean it has to go on forever. They can win this battle. In the end we can go back to what it should be and we can win the war.”
Also Saturday, San Mateo County Superintendent David Canepa issued a statement following the Redwood City Council’s request for the county to create a buffer zone at a family planning clinic in the unincorporated city of Redwood. The clinic falls under the jurisdiction of San Mateo County.
“As the assault on women’s reproductive rights continues, we need to create ‘Pro Choice Sanctuaries’ and ‘Buffer Zones’ in abortion clinics to protect the privacy and rights of women who seek childbearing care, even if they are coming from abroad,” Canepa said.
Canepa said he felt the county should work with cities to create buffer zones at every health care clinic in the county that provides reproductive health care.
“We have seen a rise in protests in clinics like Planned Parenthood located at 2907 El Camino Real on the edge of Redwood City. Therefore, I agree with Redwood City Council that the county should create a buffer zone,” the superintendent said.
“No woman should be afraid to take care of her body by seeking healthcare in these clinics,” Canepa said.