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By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2021 (San Diego) – In the wake of restrictive laws and fears that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, a March for Reproductive Rights is slated to be held Saturday, October 2 at 10 a.m. at San Diego’s Waterfront Park. The march is one of 500 marches planned nationwide in the wake of restrictive laws in several states and fears that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Details are available on the event’s Facebook page.

Numerous other states have enacted abortion restrictions and Missippi is reportedly preparing to ask the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. These actions have galvanized both anti-abortion activists and abortion rights supporters.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed legislation that aims to protect most abortion access. Among San Diego’s Congressional delegation, Democrats Sra Jacobs, Mike Levin, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas voted in favor, while Congressman Darrell Issa voted against.

Speakers at the local march and rally include Tribal Chairwoman Angela Elliott-Santos, State Senator Toni Atkins, Supervisor Nora Vargas, Planned Parenthood’s Darrah Johnson, and more.

Supporters of abortion rights have been spurred to action by a new Texas law which took effect September 1, after the Supreme Court refused to block it. The Texas law bans abortions as early as six weeks, whenever a fetal heartbeat is detected, with no exceptions even for rape or incest. The law further allows any private citizen to file a lawsuit against anyone who helps a woman end her pregnancy, such as a doctor, friend or relative.

In the past 10 years, over 500 state laws restricting abortion have been passed; today nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties don’t have a single abortion provider and five states have just one abortion clinic left, according to Act For Women.

Seeking to provide federal protections for women and medical providers in all 50 states, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the House of Representatives last week passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (H.R. 3755) by a 218 to 211 vote.  The Senate is expected to take up the measure in a few weeks after first addressing budget and infrastructure measures, but the vote is expected to be closely divided in the Senate.

The bill would create a statutory right in all 50 states for healthcare professionals to provide abortion in some, though not all, cases.  It would establish federal law to codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which guaranteed a right to abortion before viability, which is around 22 to 24 weeks.  The bill would also ban states from establishing restrictions on later term abortions, but only if a woman’s life or health is in danger.

Congresswoman Jacobs tweeted after the measure passed, “Today, as a proud member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, I voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect the right to abortion nationwide. Reproductive care is health care, and we won't back down as reproductive rights are under threat across the country.”

Congressman Issa, in a press release called the legislation “a drastic and divisive rule that overrides nearly all current pro-life protections, both at the state and federal levels.” He added, “This is a time to stand up for our most vulnerable and deliver compassion. I call on my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to fearlessly choose life.”

While abortion opponents focus on protecting the lives of the unborn, abortion supporters point out that unwanted pregnancies often negatively impact the lives of women, particularly the most vulnerable. Advocates of abortion access counter that women forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term are more likely to experience domestic violence, health problems, poverty, and financial distress including rising debt and eviction, according to the Turnaway Study, the largest study on women’s experiences with abortion and unwanted pregnancy in the U.S. Women may also suffer emotional trauma if forced to carry a rapist's child or put their own health or life in jeopardy to carry a high-risk pregnancy to term.

Numerous national surveys have found that most Americans support legal abortion in most cases, though a substantial percentage support some limitations.  Most recently, a Monmouth University poll this week found that 62 percent of Americans say abortion should be either always legal or legal with some limitations, the Washington Post report.

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