Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Sacramento Friday evening to protest the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the constitutional right to abortion.
Demonstrators chanted “not the church, not the state, people must decide their fate.” Sacramento resident Eunice Laws was among those who waved signs at drivers passing by the federal courthouse.
“I can never move out of California,” Laws said. “I love my state and I’m thankful to feel protected here. I will open my doors to anybody that needs a place to stay to come and get a safe abortion.”
The demonstrations outside the courthouse and the state Capitol took place hours after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill aimed at shielding patients who travel for abortion services from legal action. The Supreme Court ruling makes access to legal reproductive care dependent on the state where people live.
Laws, 39, said knowing her daughters no longer have the same federal abortion rights she grew up with scares her. Roe v. Wade had established federal abortion rights for nearly half a century until the Supreme Court on Friday overturned it.
Jocelyn Monroe-Holder, 16, said she worries for friends in family in states such as Texas, one of the states with “trigger laws” designed to immediately ban or restrict abortion after the ruling. People of color, immigrants, youth and disabled people will be among the people most affected by the reversal, Monroe-Holder said.
“People who don’t agree with abortion should still have the right to autonomy at the end of the day,” Monroe-Holder said.
Sacramento demonstrators describe shock
Anne Kerr, 17, moved from the Sacramento area to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho about two years ago, but returned to visit family and friends Friday. She decided to join a protest with a friend and said she felt lucky to be in town to show support for abortion rights.
“California is really different, but it’s really important that there’s even this many people turning out for something like this,” Kerr said.”Whereas in Idaho, I would get death threats for being out here doing something like this.”
Reading about the ruling on Instagram shocked her, Kerr said, despite hearing about the leak of the draft opinion in May.
Sacramento resident Isabella Valdez, 20, said the ruling made her feel sick. She woke up to a text from her best friend saying that the court reversed Roe v. Wade and thought about it all day. She missed a community college class to participate in a protest with her younger sister and her friend.
Valdez held a sign saying “abortion is healthcare” and said she worried for people who lost safe access to the reproductive health serices. Some might try home abortions, she added.
"It makes me feel terrified knowing the amount of lives that are going to be lost," Valdez said. "People don't consider that pro-life really means pro-death for most young women in really bad situations."
Future actions to be determined
Alexis Guagnano, 72, said she is not sure where to put her energy in the weeks and months to come after the ruling. The Sacramento protests will not change the Supreme Court’s ruling, Guagnano said, but she joined to help put Congress on notice.
“It’s really, to me, an assault on women,” Guagnano said. “I just want the federal government to know that as a citizen, I am outraged.”
The Sacramento chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America organized the protest and march that began at the federal courthouse. Claire Palmer, a leadership organizer with the chapter, said in an email she expects mutual aid efforts to be part of the future strategy.
The aid will likely be for people who need help accessing reproductive care inside and outside of California, Palmer said.
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