Hundreds of determined San Gabriel Valley residents gathered at All Saints Church in Pasadena Friday evening, joining nationwide protests opposing the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision legalizing the federal constitutional right to abortion.
The Court’s decision is likely to further polarize a nation that is already deeply divided on a host of political issues.
The ruling that ended the 49-year-old decision puts abortion policy at the discretion of states, some of which have outlawed or restricted the procedure. Abortion remains legal in California. The state legislature is acting to ramp up legal protections for abortion providers, and to fund clinics to prepare for a possible surge of patients traveling from other states to terminate their pregnancies.
At the Pasadena vigil All Saints Church Associate Rector Sally Howard told the animated gathering, which overflowed the lawn at the church, “While this ruling is not a surprise, it is still shocking in its disregard for the health, rights, and dignity of half of the US population.”
“We know that the impact of criminalizing abortion falls hardest on people who already struggle with access to health care, including abortion. This includes low-income women, women of color, immigrants, youth, LGBTQ+ people, many of whom now potentially face the prospect of forced childbirth,” Howard said.
“Failure is not an option,” Pastor Susan Russell told the energized crowd, as she framed the discussion around finding the means to reverse the decision. “This is an ‘All hands on deck’ moment,” she said, “and when I look around and see this beautiful diversity of the hands on this deck, I’m convinced we not only can, but we will succeed.”
“So today,” she said, “Today, we catch our breath, because we’ve been gutpunched. We grieve because we’ve been wounded. We lament because we can. And we vent and we rage, and, yeah, we say, ‘I told you so.’ We grieve and then we fight.’”
Julianne Serrano, Vice President of Advocacy and Equity at Planned Parenthood Pasadena, said that their centers statewide are already beginning to see an increase in patients from outside California.
She pointed out that California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature passed a new law Thursday, which will create a legal protective shield against any potential civil actions from outside the state for anyone performing, assisting, or receiving an abortion in the state.
The new law, AB 1666 will protect not just California residents, but anyone who travels to California seeking reproductive health care.