Hundreds of Santa Barbarans showed up to De la Guerra Plaza on short notice to support abortion, a right that a leaked Supreme Court document indicates is at risk. | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

About 200 people gathered to rally in support of abortion rights at Santa Barbara’s De la Guerra Plaza, a crowd that grew steadily through the five o’clock hour as the speeches grew more pointedly political in condemning the Supreme Court’s readiness to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that recognized abortion as a constitutionally protected right. When the speeches ended, nearly 400 people set off up State Street with signs, baby strollers, dogs, and voices raised to chant “My body, my choice!”

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Their send-off speaker was former state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who confessed she’d spent the day trying to write a PG-rated speech: “I’m just so damn mad,” she said, after reading the reports of the court’s draft ruling that was leaked to Politico. Jackson recalled the times before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973: “It was dangerous!” she exclaimed. Women are the child bearers, she said, speaking of the dignity and humanity inherent in the ability to control one’s own body and destiny.

The crowd applauded and hooted as Jackson called for the impeachment of the justices who had lied under oath before Congress — the three Trump-nominated justices who had said they would uphold the principle of stare decisis, or the doctrine of regarding new cases through the lens of legal precedents, like Roe. The leaked draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, left no doubt the court majority would uphold the Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks. Courts have considered fetal viability to be at 24 weeks for the 49 years since Roe was decided.

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Eighty percent of Americans believe Roe should be and is the law of the land, Jackson proclaimed. “What do we do? We get rid of the filibuster,” she said, and if Mitch McConnell and his cronies block them, “Vote them out!” Jackson declared.

The State of California sanctions abortion in law and by its Constitution, several speakers had said. Noting that Catholic hospitals in the state would not train its doctors in the procedure, Jackson turned as she spoke, looking for Joan Hartmann as she said, “I guess we’re going to go there.”

Hartmann, a Santa Barbara County supervisor, had spoken before Jackson, with equal eloquence and heat. “I am very mad,” she said. “Right-wing Catholic bishops have been working on this for decades. And they have a majority of Catholics on the Supreme Court.”

One of them is Justice Alito, who spoke at the 50th anniversary of Thomas Aquinas College, located in Santa Paula. The dinner and talk were held in Beverly Hills last fall, and Alito, in speaking of his judicial philosophy of “practical originalism,” said a Supreme Court justice could not go back and reconsider cases, adding that he “almost always followed past cases.”

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Alito also thought the Obergefell decision, which legalized same-sex marriage, was not a liberty imagined in the 14th Amendment. Rather, Alito saw Obergefell to be a cultural precedent dismissing traditional values and part of a growing trend of cultural hostility toward Christianity and its adherents, according to the college’s news release.

Calling Alito’s draft opinion “unfathomable,” Hartmann explained that Roe was based on a woman’s privacy rights and “the strict constructionists are saying there is no privacy.” This same line of thinking would affect the laws allowing inter-marriages, same-sex marriage, birth control pills and the IUD, and gender dysphoria medical treatment — because they are all based on a person’s right to privacy.

“We have to do what we have always done. Pick ourselves up,” Hartmann challenged the crowd. “Be an active voter,” she said, asking everyone to raise their voices with friends and family members. “Our only choice in the next election is to hold the House and get a Senate majority,” Hartmann called to cheers from the crowd. “We have to do it. We have to do it now.”

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