Over one thousand protesters gathered in Downtown Long Beach for the Women’s March on Saturday, Oct. 2, to rally against the new Texas abortion law that was passed on in early September.
The abortion rights protest was one of nearly 600 Women’s Choice marches held across the nation.
Speakers at the Long Beach event included Mayor Robert Garcia, Sen. Lena Gonzalez and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.
“I’ll keep it brief because you don’t need to hear from another man today,” Garcia said. “Abortion is healthcare, keep fighting for women’s rights. I’m just proud to be here to support.”
Britt Rafuson held a sign in the march that read “Planned Parenthood Saved My Life.” She had an abortion at 27 years old with the help of Planned Parenthood, a year after she was dropped from her parents’ insurance.
“I could not financially even pay for an abortion, let alone sustain a child,” Rafuson said. “Also, my job simply won’t allow for it.”
Rafuson is a contracted model who is required to keep her current body measurements for the next two years, and said she “would’ve been physically unable to work” if she didn’t have an abortion.
Maricela Renteria de Rivera, co-founder of Long Beach Breastfeeds, said this was not a rally for reproductive rights, but reproductive justice where people should have the freedom to limit their family size and consent to pregnancy.
Women of all ages, men, families and couples were all seen marching, holding signs and singing chants as they walked down the streets of Long Beach.
The march began on the front steps of the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse headed towards Ocean Boulevard. Protesters waved signs as passing cars honked from the street.
The rally had volunteers in brightly colored vests that made sure participants stayed on the sidewalk and crossed the roads safely. They also passed out water bottles, coffee and carried first-aid kits.
A few police officers were riding bikes and their patrol cars were parked along the route of the protest, but did not interfere. Protesters ended their march in Harvey Milk Promenade, where guest speakers were invited to give speeches for the rally.
“We must join the fight to protect women’s right to safe abortions everywhere,” Councilwoman Mary Zendejas said. “It is obvious that we still have a lot of work to do.”
Editor’s Note: This article was updated Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. to correctly reflect who attended the rally and the spelling of state Sen. Lena Gonzalez.