Alamedans March for Women’s Rights

ProBono Photo Mishaa Degraw Hundreds of Alamedans took part in the Alameda Women’s March Saturday, Oct. 2.

Alamedans March for Women’s Rights

Hundreds of Alamedans and other local residents gathered at Washington Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, for the Alameda Women’s March.

Approximately 200 Alamedans joined 120,000 other Americans at 650 marches across all 50 states demanding abortion justice and access to reproductive freedom for all. Marchers began the day at Washington Park, 740 Central Ave., at around 9 a.m. and made their way to City Hall to close out the event. Hundreds of signs proclaiming pro-choice statements were present at the march. These signs read “My Body My Choice,” “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and many more.

There were tons of entertainment at the event. The Musicians Action Group marching band performed at the march and there was live music from Betsy Rose and the Occupellas and Kash Mejia of Youth Activists of Alameda. Vice Mayor Malia Vella, Assemblymember Mia Bonta and high school student Nairobi Taylor spoke at the event.

The march was motivated by the recently passed Senate bill in Texas that prohibits abortions after the detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat, which typically happens after six weeks. Senate Bill 8 (SB8), or the Texas Heartbeat Act, was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbot on May 19 and went into effect on Sept. 1. What makes this bill unique is that it places the responsibility of enforcement on private individuals rather than law enforcement. According to the bill, “any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state, may bring a civil action against any person who performs or induces an abortion or knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” Under this act, members of the public can sue anyone who performs or facilitates an illegal abortion for a minimum of $10,000 in damages.

Many legal challenges of this bill were filed after its inception. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4, blocking the Center for Reproductive Rights motion to block the act on Aug. 30. However, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to prevent the State of Texas from enforcing SB 8. According to the complaint, “Texas enacted SB8 in open defiance of the Constitution.” The law violates individuals’ rights to have an abortion procedure prior to viability, which is usually around 24 weeks.

The first Alameda Women’s March was held the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 21, 2017.

ProBono Photo Mishaa Degraw    Almost every protester held a pro-choice sign at the Alameda Women’s March.

Ashley Lorden contributed to this story.