Proponents of pro-choice legislation, speakers and onlookers gathered in Storke Plaza on Tuesday for a rally to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The free event, held from 12-1p.m., attracted approximately 30-40 people. UCSB’s Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), a group founded last year to promote pro-choice activism, sponsored the event. The rally featured guest speakers such as sociology graduate student Judy Taylor, Dora Morse of the Women’s Commission and members of VOX.
VOX Co-chair Lauren Giardina and others who attended the rally spoke about the right to reproductive freedom.
“It is important to fight for reproductive rights and educate people about that importance. The majority of people don’t realize that if the current, anti-choice presidential administration has its way, it will be illegal for women to make choices about their bodies,” Giardina said. “If this happens, we will be falling 29 years into the past, and we’ll have to fight to regain our rights.”
In the 1973 Roe v. Wade trial, a single pregnant woman charged that Texas criminal abortion statutes were unconstitutional because they hindered her right to terminate her pregnancy. The decision in her favor set a precedent for the legalization of abortions nationwide.
Giardina said that this year’s rally was especially important because Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is expected to step down in the near future. This would leave President George W. Bush open to appoint a more conservative justice.
“A lot of people don’t understand that Roe v. Wade can be overturned by next year,” Giardina said. “People our age just don’t understand.”
Society has not yet realized the full implications of the Roe v. Wade decision, as evidenced by the fact that women do not have all the rights it should have conferred on them, Taylor said.
“Women’s clinics are a domestic war zone,” she said.
Senior biology major Darcy Grant, who attended the rally, said that pro-choice rallies are necessary due to threats to reproductive freedom.
“It is important because we have a closed-minded and conservative president who does everything in his power to take away reproductive freedom. They are our bodies,” she said.
Other organizations such as UCSB Sexual Health Peers, UCSB Rape Prevention Education Program Peers and Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties were present at the rally to provide information about abortion and other sexually related issues.
The event also included entertainment, with music by Gravity Willing and a performance by The Disposable Boy Toys, a drag king group that performs short acts to promote women’s issues, including a woman’s right to choose.