Silicon Valley is mobilizing for reproductive rights
Rallies for reproductive rights were held across the country on Saturday, including outside San Jose City Hall. For some residents, it was the first time they had demonstrated. For others, it’s a reminder of a much older battle.
“We’re going back in time,” contestant Caitlyn Garsh told San Jose Spotlight. She attended the protest with her great-aunt, whose older sister participated in reproductive rights protests in the early 1970s. “It’s crazy that people are trying to decide what we can do with our bodies. .”
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and a coalition of advocates and residents gathered in downtown San Jose and held signs proclaiming: “My Body, My Choice,” “Protect Legal and Safe Abortion,” and ” Together we fight for all”. The protest took place in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s overturning of the landmark Roe’s 1973 c. Wade, who has guaranteed the right to abortion for almost 50 years. On May 2, Politico broke the story of a leaked draft opinion that the nation’s highest court would overturn Roe against Wade, which could allow states to ban nearly all abortions at 15 weeks’ gestation.
Anticipating an increase in the number of out-of-state patients unable to receive reproductive health services, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously earlier this month to give Planned Parenthood Mar Monte 3 million to expand services, renovate its clinics and create a telehealth behavioral health program. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is the largest Planned Parenthood in California.
“It’s amazing to me in 2022 they’re going this far with reproductive health care,” Stacy Cross, CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, told San Jose Spotlight. “It could impact many other rights that we have won from the Supreme Court in my lifetime.”
Cross joined National Women’s Political Caucus speakers Orchard City Indivisible and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez before a crowd of more than 1,000, according to organizers’ estimates. Chavez, who is running for mayor of San Jose, urged the crowd to vote and stay politically engaged.
“Today is about turning fear and pain into ferocity and power,” Chavez said.
Resident Crystal Calhoun said in March 1973, at age 16, that she was one of the first teenage girls in America to have a legal abortion.
“It kept my life on track,” she told San José Spotlight. “I was able to graduate, have a career, get married and have three children. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been a teenage mother dependent on the state.
Calhoun considers herself lucky. She said that before abortions were legal in the United States, some women used bleach or coat hangers to end a pregnancy, which could lead to the inability to have children, or even the death. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization, a survey from the 1960s found that eight out of 10 low-income New York women who had an abortion attempted a self-induced procedure. In 1965, 17% of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth resulted from illegal abortions.
Helen Barrios, 71, said she knew people who had to have illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade. She said it is demoralizing and frustrating to continue to fight for reproductive rights decades later.
“The vast majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose,” she said, “and the Supreme Court should reflect the sentiment of the majority in the country.”
While these women have been advocating for reproductive rights for years, for others it was their first time taking action, including 12-year-old Imelia Nguyen. She showed up at City Hall with her mother, Kristi Thraves, to share their voices.
“People could die from it,” Nguyen told San José Spotlight. “Everyone should be heard…regardless of color. We want our rights in the future.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]