It has been a month since Politico first reported a leaked draft decision from the US Supreme Court regarding the legality of abortion. Now questions and anger abound even for those in states like California, which has taken steps to protect a woman’s right to choose in face of the draft decision.
KRCB News spoke with women in Santa Rosa who took to the streets to voice their opposition.
For 49 years, the right to an abortion in the United States has been protected under the 14th Amendment, as ruled by the Supreme Court in 1973. In the ensuing years, the right to an abortion has been subject to repeated legal and legislative challenges, at both the state and federal level. Including the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on which the leaked Supreme Court draft decision overturns the legal precedent set by Roe versus Wade.
As women around the country confront the prospect of a new era, many have gathered, young and old, to make their voices heard and to stand for their right to choose.
Aliza Zed is one of those women. She joined with others holding signs and yelling chants at Old Courthouse Square along Third Street in Santa Rosa in the days following the leak. She said the decision leaves women facing a future without equal rights.
"Repealing Roe versus Wade is a travesty to all females in the United States," Zed said. "We are citizens without full protection. If this gets repealed, then the 14th amendment means nothing. We do not have equal rights. We don't have equal protection. We don't have a say over our own bodies or the right to control our reproductive choices."
Zed expressed a scathing rebuke of the Court’s discordant decision, which lies in opposition to national popular opinion on abortion. She said women would be left in a tenuous position without access to abortions.
"This shows us the patriarchy's alive and well," Zed said. "And any young woman is only one **** away from losing her freedom. If she's raped, if she goes out on a date and a, a young man puts a drug in her drink and takes advantage of her and she gets pregnant through no fault of her own, she loses her freedom under these laws."
Marge Tourje recalled a time when women were forced to travel outside the United States to seek abortion care. Tourje, 92, joined with her daughter Peggy at the protest in Santa Rosa.
"I'm old enough. I remember when you had to go elsewhere to get one like Japan or Mexico," Tourje said.
"Your own sister almost died," her daughter said.
"That's right. From an illegal abortion, and we don't wanna go back to that. That's right. Because women of privilege are always gonna be able to get abortions. It's the women who can't afford to go to different states, who we're trying to protect. We're trying to protect all of us," said mother and daughter. Both Marge and Peggy Tourje spoke.
Chantavy Tornado, founder of Love and Light Sonoma County, a queer and BIPOC organizing group, said the Supreme Court’s decision came as no surprise to her, but she feels a mirror must be held up to the Sonoma County community’s response on issues of social justice, not just abortion.
"I'm not shocked and I'm not shook by it, but I am shooked by the silence," Tornado told KRCB News. "So people really need a time and place to stand up. But in line with this, you know, we have the shootings as well with Black Lives Matter. And there's a complacency here in Sonoma County to not speak up and speak out."
Susan Lamont said abortion should be a guaranteed right.
"I'm one of those people who says, don't talk about the person who is too poor to have an abortion," Lamont said. "Don't talk about the person who might die. Any of those things, abortion should be a right. No explanation. You shouldn't have to say, I feel bad about it. You might, but you shouldn't have to say it. I truly believe that it's a procedure that should be available to anyone who wants it for any reason they want it."
Through chanting protestors, the din of bells and whistles, and the blare of honking cars, Lamont shared her personal story of her own abortion prior to Roe v. Wade.
"I got pregnant in 1968 and abortion was illegal as was birth control in the state that I was in," Lamont said. "And I was lucky enough that my father had the money to take me to Japan. He was also taking a business trip and I could have it totally safe in a hospital abortion there, which I couldn't have anywhere in the United States. And I don't want anybody going back to that because most women, I knew couldn't do what I did."
Ella Wadbrook joined the protest with a group of peers from West Sonoma County. She said the outsize role the Supreme Court is taking in the everyday lives and choices of Americans leaves her pessimistic for the future.
"I think it's ridiculous that they have this much sway over general life in the United States," Wadbrook said. "It shows such a lack of democracy. And it's so frustrating. I turned 18 last year. And so at first I was excited that I had the ability to vote and there's midterms coming up, but I'm so pessimistic now looking at this, cause it just feels like the average voter can't have any sway on anything because the Supreme Court holds so much power and it's going to be that way for a long, long time."
Myri Glentzer, another student from West Sonoma County, said she feels both horror at the decision, but also, a sense of agency and inspiration as part of the next generation to continue the fight for women’s rights.
"It's really horrible that it's happening again," Glentzer said. "And we have to be here, but it's just, there's so many great people here and it's really cool to be a part of this turning 18. The fact that I can vote about this is a huge deal, and I'm just really honored that so many people are out here and are inspired by us."