Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Thousands of people took to the streets in downtown Los Angeles and other locations around the Southland Oct. 2 to support reproductive rights, part of a nationwide series of demonstrations against Texas’ near-total abortion ban.
The march began at Pershing Square and continued to City Hall, where Rep. Karen Bass, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis and Supervisor Holly Mitchell were among the speakers.
Paxton Smith, the Texas student whose valedictorian speech went viral for speaking in opposition to Texas’ abortion law, appeared with women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred.
“A little over a month ago, my state’s six week abortion ban went into effect,” Smith said. “The governor of Texas has said that this legislation would save lives. But he clearly doesn’t know or has chosen to ignore the reality.
“The truth is, that before Roe v. Wade, thousands of people died, by getting abortions done illegally. We cannot, we will not, go back to the days when the only way to end an unwanted pregnancy is to risk our lives,” Smith added.
“We will not go back to the days when we used coat hangers to access our basic human rights.”
“Here we are again, having another moment where we demand to be heard, because the stakes have never been higher,” actor Rosanna Arquette said. “What have we learned since we were last together, that equal rights have a ceiling. We learned that despite all our promises for protecting Roe v. Wade, all our rights could be obliterated with the stroke of a corrupt governor’s pen.”
Her sister, actor Patricia Arquette added: “American women are still under siege, as we watch states like Texas, pass laws, limiting abortion access, and other states join with this anti abortion legal extremism. Greg Abbott’s vigilante law can target anyone for helping a woman abort after six weeks. With no exceptions for rape or incest.”
Debbie Allen — actor, dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, director and producer — issued a call to action: “There is a reason why its called ‘mother earth,’ and not ‘father dirt.’ We’ve got some house cleaning to do, and who better to do it than women and all of you men who are courageous enough in joining this mission. Every woman needs to register to vote and right now.”
Actor Christine Lahti argued the state of Texas is not concerned about children.
“Texas is home to nearly one million children without health insurance,” she said. “The highest rate of uninsured in the country. Texas also ranks 44th in school funding per child, and 46th in children hunger. Texas is concerned for the unborn? Clearly [this] stops the moment they leave the womb.”
Similar gatherings were held in other Southland communities including Long Beach, West Hollywood and Pasadena.
The Women’s March Foundation also held its official march in Washington D.C., with more than 600 “sister marches” nationally.
The event was the fifth Women’s March, with this year focusing on abortion rights following the Texas ban on abortion after six weeks, when many women aren’t yet aware they’re pregnant.
The law — which does not provide exceptions for cases of rape or incest — allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion after six weeks, including the clinic or a person who drives the woman to the clinic.
“When the Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to block Texas’ abortion ban, they effectively took the next step towards overturning Roe v. Wade. Simply put: We are witnessing the most dire threat to abortion access in our lifetime,” the Women’s March stated on its website.
“That’s why we’re marching in every single state and in our nation’s capital Washington, D.C. — on Oct. 2 before the Supreme Court reconvenes. We need to send an unmistakable message about our fierce opposition to restricting abortion access and overturning Roe v. Wade before it’s too late.”
The first Women’s March was held in 2017 on the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, and it became one of the largest public demonstrations in U.S. history. The Washington Post’s analysis of the 2017 Women’s March estimated that single-day marches drew between 3.267 million and 5.246 million people in the U.S. Local estimates found that about 750,000 people attended the Los Angeles march in 2017.