Owen Lavine | Mustang News

More than 500 people attended the rally held by Women’s March San Luis Obispo on Tuesday, in support of protecting reproductive and abortion rights.

The event held outside the San Luis Obispo courthouse was organized after a non-finalized Supreme Court draft opinion was leaked, potentially striking down Roe v. Wade – a decision that has protected abortion rights since 1973. 

Jen Ford, co-organizer and co-founder of Women’s March SLO, said she was not shocked by the national news. It fueled her to push harder as an activist and bring people together in a common cause.

Previous rallies that Women’s March SLO held, saw people from all over the central coast join in protest.

“This was the city where it all started and it seems to be a great place where we continue to unite,” Ford says. “We have people that come from all over: from Cambria and Paso Robles and Atascadero, even sometimes Santa Maria.” 

This rally was another place to come together and show others that they are not alone in feelings of anger or sadness. Dawn Addis, co-executive director of Women’s March SLO, said she felt devastated after hearing the news, but she still wants to provide hope, especially to underrepresented communities who are most negatively affected.

“We believe in creating a woman-friendly world, and we believe in doing the work that it takes to create that,” Addis said. “People need hope and they need to see how many people really are standing up for our rights.” 

The rally had five speakers all from different organizations.

Local protester Jeanette de la Cruz holds signs advocating for abortion and reproductive rights at a May 3 rally. Mckenna Rodriguez | Mustang News

One of the organizations that attended was Planned Parenthood California Central Coast. Board members Reese Galido and Jason Wells were included in the lineup of speakers.

Wells said that Planned Parenthood is working to protect abortions and provide access to them all over California. 

“We are hiring more nurses, more doctors and expanding our health centers to ensure we provide as much care as we can to as many people as possible,” Wells said. “The right to an abortion should not depend on your zipcode, income level or immigration status.”

The speakers were not the only ones with messages to share at the rally. Many attendees held homemade signs showing their support for abortion and reproductive rights.

One of these sign holders was Jeanette de la Cruz, who has attended multiple rallies organized by Women’s March SLO. She said she remembers her first time at a rally in San Luis Obispo in 2017, where five thousand people attended.

“I realized that day how many people were just like me,” de la Cruz said. “They saw the crazy, they saw all of these things coming, so it’s important for us to keep showing up.”