Joining actions nationwide, more than a hundred community members gathered at the Santa Barbara Courthouse to protest restrictive measures on legal abortion. The rally, organized by Planned Parenthood’s Central Coast Action Fund, responded to the increasing number of states across the country that are restricting access to abortion services. According to the Planned Parenthood website, 16 states filed, moved, or enacted six-week abortion bans within the first three months of 2019. 

Most recently, Alabama passed a law last week that banned nearly all abortion and criminalized the procedure for health-care providers, who could receive up to 99 years in prison. “This is part of a 46 year plan to reverse Roe v. Wade and return to a time when abortion was illegal and unsafe,” said Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast. The law includes an exception for pregnant woman whose life is at serious risk, but not for those whose pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

“These attacks are more than just restricting abortion access,” said Luz Reyes-Martín, board president of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee. “This is about power and control.” According to Reyes-Martín, abortion restrictions especially burden women who already face barriers when accessing health care, including poor women, women of color, and women from the LGBTQ community, among others.

Access to abortion services in California, however, could be expanded. The California Senate approved Senate Bill 24, or the “College Student Right to Access Act,” on Monday, requiring public universities to offer abortion medication at on-campus student health centers by January 1, 2023. “Everyone deserves access to healthcare without shame, without judgment, without stigma, and without barriers,” said Tosh. “And that includes the right to safely and legally end a pregnancy.”

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