Protesters rally for abortion rights in California and the United States | Business

LOS ANGELES — Donna Troy Wangler was one of the few women gathered at an abortion rights rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday who did not carry a sign proclaiming her views.

But the Inland Empire High School teacher had a harrowing story to share about her daughter Lauren, who was born with Down syndrome and was 6 when she died.

“Some people seem to think it’s child’s play for moms like [me] abort,” Wangler said. “I decided to keep my child – and it was a traumatic load to bear. But my God, the love we shared changed my life forever.

“So I’m here today,” Wangler, 53, added, “because I want the world to know that abortion is a woman’s choice. No one else’s.

Joining protesters across the country, thousands marched Saturday near Los Angeles City Hall and elsewhere in the state as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Hundreds of rallies took place across the United States, including San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

Shante Young, 28, a project engineer with a construction company who lives in Costa Mesa, and her boyfriend, Dylan Sanchez, 30, a retail salesperson who lives in Whittier, sought shade under a tree in Grand Park listening to the voices of abortion rights supporters echoing through the loudspeakers from the stage in front of City Hall. A few meters away, anti-abortion protesters beat drums and used a megaphone to drown out the voices of activists.

“If they start taking away women’s rights, they’re going to take away the right to vote,” Young said. “What next? It’s very scary.

News helicopters hovered overhead as hundreds of protesters cheered and cheered on stage speakers.

“The most important thing is to make our presence known,” Sanchez said. He too feared that the loss of the right to abortion prefigured the loss of other rights. “I’m just afraid that one thing will change another, like a domino effect,” he said.

Betty Linville, 68, who lives in Koreatown, attended the rally with a friend, Anna Gladstone, 62, who lives in Hollywood Hills.

“I have memories of women and men who fought for abortion rights 50 years ago,” Linville said. She said she fears the “incredible freedom” of legal abortion is under threat, especially for women who cannot afford to travel from a state where it is banned to one where it is. is authorized.

“What is the next?” said Linville. “What else is going to be removed?”

“It boils down to poor women who won’t have access to abortion travel,” Gladstone said.

Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan for California to set aside $40 million for abortion providers to help cover uninsured residents and an expected influx of women from other states seeking care if the decision is overturned . California lawmakers also said they would ask voters in November to place permanent protections for the procedure in the state Constitution.

“If Roe is overthrown, California is destined to play a vital role in health care for women around the world,” said Gabriel Carnick, director and photographer who attended Saturday’s rally. “Women will come here from all over the country, as well as the doctors who care for them.”

“It’s wonderful for California,” she added, “but terrible for the states they’re going to leave behind.”

The protests come after Politico reported on May 2 that a draft opinion drafted by Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. said a majority of the court would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, rescinding her recognition of women’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortions.

The Supreme Court upheld the authenticity of the project but said the decision was not yet final. At least 26 states should ban abortion if the precedent falls.

The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, could issue a final opinion in late June or early July.

Most Americans support abortion rights – up to a point. A major survey of 10,441 Americans by the Pew Research Center, conducted in March and released earlier this month, found that 61% of Americans said abortion should be legal all the time (19%) or most (42%) of the time.

On the other side, only 8% said abortion should be illegal in all cases, while 29% said it should be illegal in most cases or with few exceptions. These results are consistent with a host of other opinion polls regarding abortion.

Kim O’Kelly, 52, a makeup artist, and her friend Kelly Sweeney, 54, a personal assistant, came to the Los Angeles City Hall protest from their home in Burbank, and each picked up a sign green upon arrival: “Stop the Supreme Court from taking away the right to abortion!”

“We’re scared that Roe v. Wade will be knocked down, and we’re not going to take it down – we’re going to fight for it,” O’Kelly said.

Sweeney said older men who use their power to restrict abortion rights resent the many different circumstances that can lead a woman to terminate a pregnancy. She raised the possibility of a 14-year-old who was raped being forced to travel to Mexico to have an abortion, saying those who threaten abortion rights lack empathy for these people.

“It’s never considered,” she said. “It should be safe for everyone.”

Ellen Lee, 29, held up a sign that read, “I am not a vessel of servile flesh.”

“It’s a phrase I’ve said to so many men in life,” said Lee, an architectural analyst who lives in El Monte. Pinned to his tank top was a “We are the Resistance” button showing Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”

Lee described the protest as a significant show of force that can bring about change. “There is power in numbers, and we have the numbers,” she said. “I really believe in the power of a group.”

Lee was shocked by the Supreme Court’s draft decision, but also inspired to fight back. “It’s the kind of inner feeling that you’re living a dystopian nightmare, but it also drives a lot of motivation,” she said.

Standing beside her, listening to the speakers, was her mother, Linda Lee, 59, a medical assistant who also lives in El Monte and carried a sign that read, “Not my daughter, bitch!” She wore the same sign during the Women’s March after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“It’s really scary,” the elder Lee said, fearing that LGBTQ rights and the right to intermarriage could be threatened once Roe v. Wade cancelled. “If they get what they want, they’ll keep getting more,” she said.

Rep. Maxine Waters then spoke, one of many speakers that included Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Karen Bass. Shortly after, many spectators joined the artists on stage to sing “We Shall Overcome”.

The demonstration ended shortly after noon with an urgent appeal from an activist on the podium: “We need your help!

Among the legions of volunteers was Elizabeth Folio, a veteran campaigner whose mission was to hand out free posters from a stuffy sidewalk with a panoramic view of the event. She could barely meet the demand.

That’s because, she says, “things have changed. Serious concern over these issues turned into anger.

Nodding appreciatively to the crowd, she said, “there are more men involved too.”

“People understand that abortion leads nowhere,” she added. “Overthrowing Roe will only eliminate safe abortion. It’s something people didn’t want to talk about before. But they are now.


(LA Times staff writers David Lauter and Melody Gutierrez contributed to this report.)

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Michael J. Chiaramonte