Southern Califoria women’s marches planned for Roe v. Wade’s 50th anniversary

The sixth annual Women’s March will once again see thousands of people gather for multiple rallies across the nation this weekend, this time on Roe v. Wade’s diamond anniversary – though in Southern California, the events seem as if they could be muted compared to past events.

The marches for women’s rights is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 22, 50 years to the day that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

But the events will also come seven months after the Supreme Court’s current iteration reversed course, returning abortion rights to the states.

This year’s National Women’s March will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, with the move from Washington, D.C., meant to signify the added importance of advocating on a state level, organizers said.

Nearly 800 people had so far signed up to attend that march. In the past, though, the national march – which began in 2017 – has drawn thousands.

Across Southern California, meanwhile, there are only a smattering of events scheduled for this weekend, with some not even including marches. A couple in Los Angeles, for example, will instead feature live music fundraisers or documentary screenings.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities for folks to carry signs and shout chants. Claremont, Riverside and Huntington Beach all have marches planned – though the latter has so far only drawn about 50 RSVPs.

Perhaps the largest event, this time around, will be in Long Beach.

That gathering is organized by advocacy group LB/OC Women Rising – which has previously put on multiple successful events in downtown Long Beach, drawing hundreds of people – and will feature a march and rally. The rally will boast several speakers, including attorney Gloria Allred, Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, Vice Mayor Cindy Allen, state Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal and longtime activist Zoe Nicholson.

“The fact that we are gathering on a day that should be marking 50 years of reproductive freedom but instead now signifies a marking of what was and no longer exists, said LB/OC Women Rising founder Lisa Del Sesto, “is very significant and deserves to be noticed.”

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, multiple states – many in the South and Midwest – moved quickly to enact laws to restrict or outright ban abortions.

California wasn’t one of those.

Instead, during the Nov. 8 election, the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, enshrining reproductive freedom into the California Constitution.

Nevertheless, Roe’s demise underscores the work that remains with gender equality, local women’s rights organizers said.

“While in California it’s still legal to get an abortion,” said Sarah Van Berkum, the organizer of a women’s march fundraiser and live music show in West L.A, “it’s important to show up for the other states (to) instill the message that we’re demanding reproductive justice and freedom for all persons, everywhere.

“We’re sending a message that women and (their) allies,” she added, “will fight to protect our rights and our lives.”

Van Berkum also said she feels for the women who have already fought this battle once in their lifetimes.

One of those women is Dorothy Wills, 75, who organized the Claremont march and has advocated for reproductive rights since the late 1960s.

“I’ve been in this fight since I was in high school but even today, women’s rights are still under attack,” Willis said. “We are simply angry about the second-class citizenry that women are getting; I think that’s an issue we should all be concerned about.”

Ensuring full rights is the mission of the national Women’s March organization and its sister chapters. The network of organizations aim to build inclusive systems while dismantling those that activists say hurt women and other social minorities.

While many were disheartened by the Supreme Court overturning Roe, this weekend’s events are meant to reinvigorate that mission, organizers said.

The march planned for Riverside, in particular, is meant to bring “back hope because the fight is not lost,” said Maya Rodriguez of the Riverside County National Organization for Women.

And hope not just for abortion rights, she said.

The nationwide theme this year is “#BiggerThanRoe,” which is intended to also signify the importance of other rights, Rodriguez said, including transgender rights and the right to same-sex marriage, which many in the LGBTQ community have said they fear could be targeted next.

“We’re also going to make sure that we get out there and we spread a message of love and unity,” Rodriguez said, “because that’s what this is.”

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If you go

Here’s where #BiggerThanRoe events are happening around the Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura and Orange counties. All events are on Sunday unless otherwise noted.

Beverly Hills: A screening of “The Janes” documentary about the past and future of reproductive rights in the U.S. is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, 8556 Wilshire Blvd. A panel discussion will follow. Tickets are $25 or $50; proceeds will support the Women’s March Foundation.

Claremont: Noon to 1:30 p.m. along Bonita Avenue.

Huntington Beach: Noon to 2 p.m. at 1035 11th St.

Long Beach: The march will begin at 1 p.m. at Victory Park, 448 E. Ocean Blvd., and end at the Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse, 275 Magnolia Ave., where there will be a rally on the courthouse steps.

Los Angeles: A Live Music Women’s Rights Bigger Than Roe Fundraising Event is set for 2 to 6 p.m. at 3414 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles. Ticket donations, on Eventbrite, range from $10 to $100, with all the proceeds going to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, a national nonprofit abortion and emergency contraception fund based in LA. There will also be a silent auction. People can donate without attending at givelively.org or by texting HEYWRRAP to 44321.

Riverside: 11 a.m. outside Riverside City Hall, 3900 Main St.

Temecula: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Temecula Duck Pond and Park, 28250 Ynez Road.

Ventura: A march will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Plaza Park, 651 E. Thompson Blvd. Justice For All Ventura County, Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund and other organizations will attend.

Virtual events will also take place which people can join from anywhere.

Staff writers Javier Rojas and Jeff Horseman contributed to this report.

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