‘She almost lost her life’: Chico protesters voice fear, rage over Roe v. Wade decision
About 200 protesters took to the streets of downtown Chico last week to dispute the U.S. Supreme Court’s stance on abortion rights.
Hundreds gathered on Friday, June 24 just hours after the Supreme Court's 6-3 vote overturned Roe v. Wade — the nearly 50-year-old case that was the basis for legal abortion across the United States.
The vote marks the first time in half of a century that individual states will get to make the call on abortion law.
Friday’s demonstration lasted for about two hours. People gathered across from Chico City Hall in the City Plaza. Attendees held signs and chanted slogans such as "my body, my choice” and “reproductive rights are human rights."
The rally was organized by Women’s March Chico. Speakers urged the crowd to reach out to their local representatives and let them know that they were ready to fight Friday’s decision. Even though many attendees had already braced themselves, the ruling was nonetheless momentous.
“People that don't have uteruses are making these decisions”- Attendee Abbey Chanco
"Of course, we knew this was coming. I think many people believe that it wouldn't be as clear cut,” said Sue Hilderbrand, associate professor of political science and criminal justice at Chico State. “I think a lot of people hoped that it would be sort of massaged a little bit by the more sane wing of the Supreme Court. But here we are a complete reversal."
The crowd was unanimous in its efforts to preserve reproductive freedom. Various speakers took to the mic and voiced their anger at the decision and local lawmakers.
“We think because we're in California, we're safe,” Hilderbrand said on the microphone. “We are not. If we lose the house, we're screwed. So what I'm asking each one of you committed right now, spend one hour or two hours a week from now until November 8 and make phone calls.”
Some attendees shared their personal abortion experiences, while others spoke about the importance of freedom when it comes to having control of your own body.
“People that don't have uteruses are making these decisions,” said attendee Abbey Chanco. “Women are the backbone of any economy and you're just taking away those rights. And it's a slippery slope and that's scary.”
Butte County District 3 Supervisor Tami Ritter was also in attendance. She was accompanied by her son and mother.
“My mom actually got up and told her story of an illegal abortion because it was before abortion was legal in the United States and she almost lost her life,” Ritter said. “So, this has been an issue — probably my first issue of activism that I've ever been involved with — and for this to be where we are today … it's appalling.”
Many also expressed sadness over what they called a backward step for the country.
“What's next? Same-sex marriage? Contraception? All these things and I feel like it's super based in religion,” said attendee Mary Galvin. ”We have a separation of church and state for a reason. And I think that that's been walked all over … the separation of church and state doesn't exist.”
Organizers urged the energetic crowd to make their voices heard in this fall’s upcoming midterm elections.
My mom actually got up and told her story of an illegal abortion because it was before abortion was legal in the United States and she almost lost her life … for this to be where we are today … it’s appalling.- Butte County District 3 Supervisor Tami Ritter
“What I’m hoping is that it’s going to get people riled up and out there and voting and realize that that’s where our power is,” said attendee Anne Murphy.
More than a dozen Republican states have trigger laws that immediately ban abortion, which is expected to force women to travel to Democratic states where the procedure will still be legal.
In California, residents will have the chance to vote to add abortion rights to their state's constitution this upcoming November. This past Monday, the state Assembly voted to amend Article 1 of its constitution to add abortion rights.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged to continue supporting women's reproductive rights. He immediately responded to Roe v. Wade by signing a bill to protect state abortion providers.