Santa Barbara’s streets served as a channel for more than 6,000 Women’s March demonstrators after former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration, one of the largest local demonstrations in recent memory. The Women’s March quickly became an annual event, drawing thousands of people across the country to stand for women’s rights and against the general conservative zeitgeist that came with the Trump presidency. This year’s Women’s March, however, touts a more specific aim: to halt the restriction of reproductive rights and prevent the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
At noon on Saturday, October 2, Women’s March Santa Barbara in tandem with Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund will be leading a demonstration from De la Guerra Plaza to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to protest the surge of legislation limiting abortion rights across the country. According to a July report by the Guttmacher Institute — a research organization that supports abortion rights — more anti-abortion legislation has been passed in 2021 than in any previous year since 1973.
The march specifically objects to the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to block a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — the most restrictive ban in the nation — and raises attention to the Supreme Court’s decision to review Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks next term, which may have profound consequences for Roe v. Wade.
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“We want the Supreme Court to know that the public opinion is: Restricting reproductive rights is not okay. We will not stand for it. We’re going to take to the streets and make a lot of noise,” said activist and Women’s March Santa Barbara organizer Michal Lynch. “It’s not just women’s rights; it’s everybody’s rights. This is something that affects more than just women.”
The 2017 Women’s March inspired approximately 700 demonstrations around the world. As of this weekend, according to Lynch, there are already nearly 600 marches planned just in the U.S.
“My request to everybody is that they do more than just tell their friends; they need to reach out and invite,” said Lynch.
Supporters of the event include The Fund for Santa Barbara, which financially supports social justice advocacy, as well as the Society of Fearless Grandmothers, an environmental advocacy coalition, which will contribute to the demonstration’s safety monitoring. Organizations such as Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) and Indivisible S.B. will also be involved with the march.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a large rally following the march. Rather, information from allied groups will be posted on the Women’s March Santa Barbara Facebook page. All marchers must be masked and practice social distancing to the greatest extent possible.