Berkeley activists protest for reproductive rights on Sproul Plaza

Photo of two individuals carrying a sign saying "Abortion on demand & without apology, rally & march" on Sproul Plaza
Leon Kunstenaar/Courtesy
In anticipation of the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, activists across the Berkeley community gathered on Sproul Plaza to protest.

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Demonstrators from the Bay Area Rise Up 4 Abortions Rights coalition and the Raging Grannies Action League protested to support reproductive rights Saturday.

The protest was held in objection to the Supreme Court’s impending vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in the United States in 1973.

“Without the right and the access to abortion women die, or they suffer, and their dreams are smashed,” said protest organizer Reiko Redmonde in an email. “It must be up to the woman to decide if she wants to carry a pregnancy to term.”

According to Redmonde, who also works at Revolution Books Berkeley, about 125 people attended the protest, which occurred on Sproul Plaza.

Many protestors wore green bandanas to show solidarity with abortion rights movements in Latin America, Redmonde noted. In recent years, abortion has been decriminalized in Mexico, Argentina and Colombia because of what Redmonde calls “the green wave.”

The green wave was started by a group of women who began using green bandanas as a symbol while protesting for reproductive rights in Mexico, according to Redmonde.

“This was won not through any kind of lobbying or voting, but by actually putting your feet in the streets,” Redmonde said. “That is very important for us to grasp here.”

Redmonde, who was a teenager when Roe v. Wade passed, also emphasized that the right to abortion was won due to millions of “bold, furious and determined women.” Many of these women are now part of Raging Grannies Action League, which joined Redmonde at the protest, she added.

A small group of anti-abortion activists also followed the protest, according to Redmonde. However, she noted the importance of active protests as a way for both groups to debate the science behind abortion and pregnancy.

Campus sophomore Kesi Kasai-Johnson added the protestors were joined by a significant number of high school students. Many college students observed but did not join the protest, according to Kasai-Johnson.

“All they need to do is just walk with us,” Kasai-Johnson said. “It was disappointing to see the younger youth have more of an activist, more of a Berkeley spirit, than the rest of us.”

Kasai-Johnson said their interest in reproductive justice comes in light of the recent law passed in Texas banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. They also mentioned a bill introduced in Oklahoma banning abortions even in the case of ectopic pregnancies, in which the fetus forms inside the fallopian tube.

According to Kasai-Johnson, the reversal of Roe v. Wade will have a disproportionate impact on people of color and the transgender community. However, they noted the issue should be of great concern to the entire Berkeley community.

“We’re just regressing,” Kasai-Johnson said. “Motherhood is a title for life. We should be given the choice of if and when we want to become mothers.”

Kavya Gupta is the lead race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kavyaguptta.