‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ march draws hundreds to downtown Santa Cruz

A sign reading "My Body, My Choice" at a May 14 rally
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly set to overturn the decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Santa Cruz joined cities large and small across the country Saturday in making its opposition heard.

A crowd of several hundred gathered Saturday in downtown Santa Cruz for a march and rally for abortion rights in the wake of news that the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the 1973 decision that legalized the practice nationwide.

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” event followed the May 3 leak of a Supreme Court draft majority opinion, which outlined a decision to strike down the landmark, 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, which provides a national right to abortion access and a woman’s right to choose. Written by Justice Samuel Alito, the draft opinion shows the aim of five justices — Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — to strike down the 1973 decision, long cited as legal precedent, and a subsequent 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Politico first reported the draft opinion and the story has both buoyed right-to-life activists, who have long sought such a reversal, and mobilize major opposition.

Similar marches took place from New York and Washington to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and in smaller communities across the country.

Saturday’s rally followed a May 4 event that attracted more than 200 to the Superior Court of Santa Cruz downtown, where Cynthia Mathews — who launched the Santa Cruz chapter of Planned Parenthood from her kitchen table in 1971 — said she told Lookout’s Grace Stetson what the ramifications will be when that happens sometime in the next several months.

“Over half the states in the country are ready to fall — this is a call to action,” she said, a reference to as many as 26 states set to impose abortion bans. “It’s not going to be a quick win … it’s discouraging, but it’s not over.”

That sentiment was much in evidence Saturday; here’s a sampling from social media:

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