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Pro choice rally

Rallying in Oakland to add abortion rights to the state constitution: ‘We absolutely need to send a message to the rest of the country.’

on October 9, 2022

Protesters gathered under a warm sun in Frank Ogawa Plaza by Oakland City Hall Saturday for a pre-election rally in favor of Proposition 1, which would make abortion a right under California’s Constitution. 

Carrying signs that read “Supreme Illegitimacy” and “Politicians Make Lousy Doctors,” about 100 people came to hear speakers from Planned Parenthood, the medical community and  other abortion rights activists. Pre-made posters were scattered about the plaza, including one of a Supreme Court justice with red hangers at his feet, meant to signify women who resorted to drastic measures because they lacked access to safe, legal abortions. 

“We absolutely need to send a message to the rest of the country that, you know, we’re not going to stand for this,” said Jacqueline Musich, a registered nurse who attended the rally. 

Pro choice rally
Poster Syndicate provides free posters in support of abortion rights at a rally in Oakland. (Emma Garcia)

There have been no restrictions on abortion rights in California since the Supreme Court in June reversed the federal right to an abortion that had stood for half a century. Hours after the court’s decision, California passed a law to protect abortion providers and patients from liability against any potential action from another state that banned the practice. In the four months since the court’s decision, 13 states have imposed restrictions, according to The New York Times

Proposition 1, if passed by voters in November, would add a layer or protection against any potential restrictions. It also would enshrine the right to contraception, including the emergency, or Plan B, pill. 

At the rally, Dr. Sirina Kessara, an OB-GYN, talked about restrictions in other states that put women’s lives at risk. For example, she recalled helping a pregnant woman who showed up in an emergency room bleeding heavily. Although the woman desperately wanted to become a mother, Kessara said that the woman decided, for her own safety, to abort the fetus. 

In states with abortion bans, a patient in that position would have to weigh the legal consequences, Kessara said. “She would be thinking, ‘Well, is this condition life-threatening enough to risk asking for this procedure that could put me in jail?’ That world is terrifying to me. I can’t allow that. I cannot provide high quality health care in that situation.” 

Pro choice rally
UC Berkeley student Lauren Adams speaks at an abortion rights rally in Oakland. (Emma Garcia)

Rachel Beser felt compelled to attend the rally, having vivid memories of the days before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the 1970s. She said her mother helped women get abortions before the law changed and that she would assist her. Some of those women had been raped and some had attempted home abortions or needed help after botched abortions, Beser said.  

“And I don’t think people understand how prolific it really was and how dangerous this really is,” she said.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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