Hundreds gathered at Victory Park in Long Beach — many clad in pink and carrying signs supporting the right to legal abortions — on Sunday, Jan. 22, 50 years to the day after the original Roe v. Wade ruling and seven months after the Supreme Court’s current iteration reversed course, returning abortion rights to the states.
Similar events were planned in other Southern California communities, including rallies in Claremont, Riverside and Huntington Beach, as well as a live-music fundraiser and a documentary screening in the Los Angeles area.
Nationwide, Sunday’s main march was held in Wisconsin, where upcoming elections could determine the state Supreme Court’s power balance and future abortion rights. Rallies took place in dozens of other cities, including Florida’s state capital of Tallahassee, where Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out for the right to legal abortions.
In Long Beach, which appeared to be the largest of the Southern California rallies, demonstrators marched down Ocean Boulevard and up Magnolia Avenue to the steps of the Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse to rally and hear speeches by activists and public officials, in an event organized by LB/OC Women Rising.
“We are here to show our support — not only for women here but to support women all over the country,” said Jessica Porter, 17, who, along with her cousin, made her way from Orange County to participate in the rally toting homemade signs.
“I think it’s very important that we continue to march,” Porter added.
No signs of counter-protesters could be seen at the Long Beach rally.
Chants including “My body, my choice,” and “Come on, come on join the fight, abortion is a human right,” were shouted while cars honked in solidarity.
“It’s really hard to forget what the last year brought to light in this country and across the world,” Lisa Del Sesto, spokesperson for LB/OC Women Rising, said at the rally, “here in America people that can become pregnant got their rights taken away from them.”
“This is our time to rise up to these injustices,” Del Sesto said as the crowd cheered on the steps of the courthouse.
Last year, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returned decisions on abortion rights to the states, many of which quickly enacted restrictive laws. California voters, though, overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to reproductive freedom during the Nov. 8 election.
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Sarah Hegan, 32, from Long Beach, started to get engaged in such protests when “I was online and signing petitions and supporting donations that needed help.” She learned about Sunday’s rally just hours before and decided to attend.
Hegan said that she marched because “it is important to continue bringing attention to Roe v. Wade.”
Speakers included attorney Gloria Allred, Rep. Katie Porter, Rep. Robert Garcia, Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, Vice Mayor Cindy Allen and state Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal. Activists Zoe Nicholson, Carmen Flores and Aailyah Ann Daniels also spoke.
“I think the rally was much bigger than (LB/OC Women Rising) thought it was going to be,” said Abby Thomas, a volunteer with the organization.
“I’m happy people came out because although we did ensure abortion rights here in California it’s really important that we fight for everyone else in the country as well,” she said, “and continue because it can affect us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report