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Abortion-Rights Supporters and Opponents Rally in SF on Eve of 50th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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A woman stands in front of a group of abortion rights supporters holding a sign that reads "If my uterus shot bullets would you stop regulating it?"
Abortion-rights supporters gather for a rally and march in front of the SF Public Library, across the street from the anti-abortion-rights Walk for Life West Coast rally, on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)

Activists on both sides of the abortion-rights issue held events in San Francisco on Saturday, the day before what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision granting pregnant people the constitutional right to end a pregnancy — a right that was overturned in 2022 with the Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, leaving the regulation of all aspects of the abortion issue up to individual states.

Abortion rights supporters rally in front of SF City Hall.
Abortion-rights supporters gathered for a rally and march in front of SF City Hall in Civic Center Plaza, across the street from the anti-abortion-rights Walk for Life West Coast rally on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)

The anti-abortion Walk for Life West Coast organization held its annual rally and march at 12:30 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza at 335 McAllister Street, after which they walked along Market Street to Embarcadero Plaza at Market and Steuart streets.

An anti-abortion protestor holds a sign that reads "peace starts in the womb" in Spanish.
Abortion-rights opponents of the Walk for Life West Coast rally gather at SF Civic Center Plaza for a rally and march on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)

Meanwhile, more than a dozen groups came together for another march led by the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice-SF, rallying at 11:30 a.m. at the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. before making their way down Larkin Street to Civic Center for the counterprotest. Participants of the counterprotest included the Freedom Socialist Party, the Raging Grannies, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Bay Area and the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco.

Seem from the back, a woman wearing a black top and bottoms, her arms spread to show orange and yellow translucent wings, lit from the front. The woman has a crown of plastic flowers on her head, and stands on stone steps in a crowd of other people.
'I wear this monarch butterfly as a dance of peace,' said Sharat Lin, in front of the SF Public Library at a rally in support of abortion rights, across the street from a rally in opposition, on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)
A woman holds a sign that reads "all people are equal, all choices are not"
Abortion-rights opponents gather at SF Civic Center for a rally and march on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)

Mainly in response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe, California lawmakers have passed a slew of safeguards for abortion access, as well as putting a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, Proposition 1, which was backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and overwhelmingly approved by voters on Nov. 8.

Among the new laws is one that protects patients from prosecution if they end a pregnancy, even if it's self-induced or outside the medical system. The new law also ends the requirement that coroners investigate stillbirths, after two Kings County women were charged after testing positive for drugs.

A Black woman with short, black hair, a large white dust mask covering most of her face, wears a black top and black leggings and black shoes as she marches among other protestors.
Irene, an activist with the National Mobilization of Reproductive Justice coalition who declined to give her last name, said, 'I think that Roe was never enough, that Roe was always the floor and not the ceiling,' during a rally in support of abortion rights in SF Civic Center Plaza on Jan. 21, 2023. Irene added, 'I think what we're getting right now is that we know it's not just abortion. It is also an intersectional fight for our reproductive rights. Everyone understands now that we are all under attack. The far right has already said that they're coming for contraception, gay marriage and even interracial marriage next.' (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)
A middle aged Latina woman holds a sign that says "pray for an end to abortion" in Spanish.
An abortion-rights opponent at the Walk for Life West Coast rally holds a sign that reads in Spanish 'Pray for an end to abortion' at SF Civic Center on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)
Two women hold signs that read "women life freedom" and "women for freedom"
Sisters Wendy Lewis (visiting from Boston) and Marcie Boyd take part in the Women’s March counterprotest in SF Civic Center Plaza on Jan. 21, 2023. (Ekene Okobi/KQED)
Two white woman, the shorter on the left with long, gray hair, and the taller and younger on the right with long brown hair, pose for a picture. The older woman has an uncertain look on her face and clasps and peach colored beanie and a protest sign against her body; the younger woman wears sunglasses and a black cap, wearing a plaid shirt and a leopard-spotted fanny pack slung across her chest, and she smiles broadly.
Kristine Senglaup and Stephanie Burns take part in the Walk for Life West Coast march in SF Civic Center Plaza on Jan. 21, 2023. (Ekene Okobi/KQED)
Abortion rights supporters hold a banner that reads "free abortion on demand without apology"
Abortion-rights supporters gather for a rally and march in front of the SF Public Library across the street from a rally in opposition on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lakshmi Sarah/KQED)

This story includes reporting by Bay City News and KQED's Lakshmi Sarah and Ekene Okobi.

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