Southern California demonstrators rally for abortion rights on Roe ruling anniversary

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.

A large group gathered at Victory Park for a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Amanda May of Huntington Beach joined the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Congressional candidate for CA 47 Dom Jones dances with fellow women rights supporters at a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Abby Thomas joins the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Noelle, 2, joins her family and women rights supporters at a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Downtown Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A large group marched down Ocean Blvd in Downtown to protest for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A large group showed up with signs at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Women???s right supporters march down Ocean Blvd. to voice their concerns about their rights being taken away and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Kids joined the rally to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A large group marched down Ocean Blvd in Downtown to protest for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Carmen Flores addresses the crowd at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Congressional candidate for CA 47 Dom Jones addresses the crowd at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A group holds signs for cars to honk for support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A large group marched down Ocean Blvd. to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Many supporters showed up with signs at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Gloria Allred leads the march down Ocean Blvd. along with fellow supporters for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A family joins the march down Ocean Blvd. to protest for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Women with signs gathered at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Zoe Nicholson addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Women showed up with signs of protest at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A large crowd showed up with signs at the rally for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Melissa Mills, daughter of Jane Roe, addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Katie Porter spoke to the crowd gathered at the courthouse fighting for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Congressman Robert Garcia addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Katie Porter addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Chantelle Piper leads the crowd in a chant for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Gloria Allred addresses the crowd at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

Signs wave in front of the Long Beach courthouse from a crowd standing up for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

A group of young women listen to the powerful speeches at the Long Beach Courthouse to show support for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

LBCCD Trustee Sunny Zia spoke to the crowd gathered at the courthouse fighting for womens rights and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which said women had the constitutional right to an abortion in Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, January 22, 2023. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

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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.

Maliha Williamson addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Maliha Williamson addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Alan Vargas addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Christel Reyna addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Dr. Angelo Farooq addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Christel Reyna tells her story to the audience, which is reflected on her glasses, at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Maya Rodriguez addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Joshua Speiginer addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

An attendant wears a support t-shirt at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Christel Reyna applauds as her son Joshua Speiginer addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Mickey Donovan-Kaloust carries a sign at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Clarissa Cervantes addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

10 years-old Cecilia Chavez tells her experience to the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

Katie Wehus addresses the audience at the “Bigger than Roe” Rally outside Riverside City Hall on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer)

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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

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