Thousands of people throughout the Bay Area took part in demonstrations Friday following the release of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion earlier in the day overturning Roe v. Wade.
Rallies drew crowds in Oakland, San Jose and San Mateo, as well as in San Francisco where protesters exercised their freedom of expression with a sit-in and a march along Market Street that eventually culminated along The Embarcadero in front of the Ferry Building.
On Market Street during the late afternoon march, protesters chanted “not the church, not the state, women will decide our fate,” and “abortion is healthcare, abortion is a right.” A crowd of more than 3,000 people occupied the intersection of Market and Hyde streets for 49 minutes of civil disobedience to mark the 49 years that Roe v. Wade was law.
The crowd then headed east along Market Street toward the Ferry Building, with people cheering from cars and joining in from sidewalks. The mood was infectious, with chants breaking out from different people in the crowd. One couple walked through the crowd in red robes, referencing the garb of women used for their wombs in Margaret Atwood’s novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“Today is a signal that things can just get worse.” said Melanie Yencken. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ started in a very similar way. It was terrifying.”
Others in the crowd felt energized to be part of the protest.
“Earlier today I was feeling exhausted and numb and enraged, but today I am reminded that this is a movement ahead of us, said Annalise Spanos,” a 24-year-old paralegal. “If we think back to 1973, the year that Roe v. Wade was codified into law, it energized the conservative legal movement. And now this is our moment to be energized to fight back.”
“I feel powerful, I feel very powerful. And comfortable! In the streets of San Francisco, I feel comfortable,” said Kayleeanne Knight, who moved to the city to pursue a career as a professional boxer. “I started my career because I was raped when I was little, so abortion and health care have always been main passions.”
‘Merge, organize, donate, vote’
It was a similar scene at Central Park in San Mateo.
“This is not the time to be silent,” said Diane Papan, San Mateo’s deputy mayor, who organized the rally there. “We are going to merge, organize, donate, vote.”
San Mateo County has enacted a 100-foot buffer zone ordinance to protect access to the local Planned Parenthood Mar Monte clinic and has recently allocated $1 million to support Planned Parenthood and other local abortion clinics in the city’s steps to become a sanctuary for people seeking abortions.
Sen. Josh Becker said he was saddened to be at Friday afternoon’s rally as a father of an 18-year-old daughter who no longer has the same rights that were in place in the United States since 1973.
“There is a coordinated right-wing extremist attack on women. There is going to be potentially an attack on LGBTQ individuals,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, who represents San Mateo and Redwood City in the 22nd Assembly District.
Rally attendees held posters reading “Justices lied, now women will die” and “I Love Pro-Choice California,” also shouting “Our bodies, our rights.”
Friday’s decision came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, indicating the high court was prepared to take this step. Friday’s outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the 50 states.