Women’s March SLO (WMSLO) held a rally and march on Saturday for reproductive rights in response to Texas’ abortion ban. The date marked the organization’s fifth anniversary since the first march was hosted during the 2016 election cycle.

“We have seen unprecedented attacks on abortion care, on reproductive rights, on people who can become pregrant first and foremost — but really it’s an attack on all people,” WMSLO Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director Dawn Addis said in an interview with Mustang News. “When the government puts in this kind of legislation that purposefully turns people against one another, it’s something we all have to speak up for.”

WMSLO hosted a series of guest speakers during the rally, which took place at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse starting at 10 a.m. Community members pooled around the courthouse steps with signs raised as the speeches began.

Ellie Spink | Mustang News

Dr. Susan Robinson, an obstetrics and gynocolgy specialist, spoke on her own experiences performing and witnessing later abortions.

“I believe that a person’s reason for wanting an abortion is irrelevant,” Robinson said. “It’s up to the person who’s carrying the pregnancy to decide whether that pregnancy should continue. Elect people who are gonna uphold the right to free, safe, accessible abortion and reproductive care and that will share accurate gender-affirming information right here in San Luis Obispo.”

Cal Poly’s California State University Employees Union organizing chair and SLO Scoop journalist Erin Foote shared her own abortion story and call-to-action with the courthouse audience.

“At this moment, as we stare down a post-Roe reality, nice white ladies like myself — and like perhaps many of you in attendance — can no longer have the privilege of saying nothing,” Foote said. 

President of Cal Poly’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) Benjamin Vargas spoke to the audience following Foote’s address, sharing his group’s mission in the San Luis Obispo community and ways for the audience to get involved.

“I feel like the community’s reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” Vargas said in an interview with Mustang News.

Vargas said the club is working on joint events with other campus clubs and are hoping to set up an on-campus condom distribution for Halloween. Cal Poly’s PPGA will have a booth this Thursday, Oct. 7 at the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market.

Choe Lovejoy | Mustang News

Community member Ruzena Brar ended the rally with her abortion story, a procedure which occured during her third pregnancy. 

“I was fortunate that I had a choice, a choice that has been taken away from Texans and is threatened in so many other states,” Brar said. “Right now, abortion patients in Texas are trying to organize travel, trying to find a way to afford it and trying to figure out the logistics, the childcare, the time off of work.”

After the speeches commenced, the audience began the march enroute through downtown, then reconvened and dispersed back at the courthouse. 

WMSLO will continue to host their virtual “Answering the Call” events in the coming months, where local and state female leaders share their experiences in leadership. More information can be found on the WMSLO website, in addition to the calendar of other related events.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *