OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Abortion-rights supporters fanned out across the Bay Area Tuesday to take part in Stop the Ban rallies, with several hundred similar protests going on nationwide, including outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Stop the Ban rallies are in response to recent anti-abortion legislation in several conservative states that are seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Rallies were held throughout the day Tuesday in cities small and large, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Palo Alto, as well as Danville and El Sobrante.
On the steps of San Francisco City Hall, men and women holding pink signs reading “Together we fight for all” spoke about the need to uphold women’s rights.
“Only in America could abortions gets banned quicker than assault rifles,’’ said one speaker. “Make no mistake about it, women are under attack in our country by fundamentalists who claim to be pro-life.’’
The speakers were joined by a group of women dressed in red capes and white bonnets seemingly paying homage to the best-selling novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” That story is set in a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States, and ruled by fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state.
In San Jose, demonstrators took to the streets with signs reading “keep abortion safe and legal” and "ban war not abortion” and chanted “not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate.”
Jenny Higgins Bradanini, an organizer with Women’s March San Jose, said women are under attack and people of all ages need to stand in solidary to rally for pro-choice rights.
“We’re not in a state that is at risk right now, but this is a chip-away at Roe vs. Wade, it’s been the plan all along,’’ said Higgins Bradanini, who attended the rally with her mother. “We have to get out, we have to fight this and donate to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU because we have to fight this legally.”
Cassidy Chang skipped classes Tuesday to attend the San Jose rally.
“My parents were willing to let me ditch today because I am super passionate about this topic,’’ the high school junior said. “When I first heard about the new abortion bills, I was super angry about it and I really wanted to do something about. This is my way of doing something.”
The nationwide rallies come just a week after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey approved the tightest restriction on abortion in the United States in decades. The law makes performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases unless necessary for the mother’s health.
Governors in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio also recently approved bills to criminalize abortion once doctors detect a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks before many women know they're pregnant.
Several Democrats seeking their party’s 2020 presidential nomination turned out at the rallies and showed their support on social media.
Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was at the abortion ban protest outside the Supreme Court.
"The right for a woman to control her own body is a fundamental constitutional right," Sanders told CNN. "And we have got to do everything we can to defend."
And fellow Democrat and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also bidding for the White House, tweeted her support.
“There’s nothing more powerful than people speaking up for what we all know is right. I stand in solidarity with those across the country to #StopTheBans. We will fight with everything we’ve got to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decision.”