By Greg Hernandez
Los Angeles LGBT Center staffers were among the more than 250 people taking part in a spirited demonstration on May 21, a national day of action to stop abortion bans.\
Demonstrators crowded onto all four corners of the intersection of Larchmont and Beverly boulevards and marched across crosswalks chanting “Stop the bans!” “We won’t go back!” and “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Abortion bans have got to go!”
“I think it’s really important that we recognize that reproductive justice is an LGBT issue,” said Terra Russell Slavin, the Center’s director of Policy and Community Building. “We’re here today to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We need to be uniting against these issues and pushing back.”
The Larchmont Village demonstration was one of three rallies in Los Angeles and many more across the U.S. in response to Alabama’s recent passage of an extreme law banning abortions in the state even in the case of rape or incest.
Backed by religious conservatives, similar laws are being considered in other states in an effort to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the U.S. in 1973.
The anti-abortion forces are the same groups who, under the guise of “religious liberty,” are using similar tactics to roll-back healthcare, employment, and public accommodation protections for LGBT people.
“This is part of a larger pattern to use religion as a basis to discriminate,” Slavin pointed out.
Joey Hernandez, the Center’s policy and mobilization manager, added: “Today is about access to legal and safe abortion—to be able to fight against the rhetoric of conservatives. We need to stand up in collaboration and unity with each other to be able to fight for our rights. Abortion is a fundamental right in the U.S.”
Many passing motorists honked in support as they saw demonstrators’ signs proclaiming: “My Body, My Choice!” “I Decide!” “You Don’t get to Tell Me What to Do With My Body!” “Fight Like Hell!” and ”Honk If You’re Pro Choice!”
Actress Busy Philipps of Cougar Time and Dawson’s Creek held up a sign made out of a pink coat-hanger as a symbol of desperate, self-induced abortions.
“This is not a time for anyone to be silent and sit on the sidelines—especially for people in the public eye,” Philipps said. “You have a platform and you have a voice and you’ve got to use it.
“I’ve been really heartbroken in the past month as these extreme bans have been rolling out across the country,” she added. “We have to fight them. We need to make some noise and we need everyone to show up. We all have skin in the game, it affects everyone.”
Hernandez recommends that people contact their elected officials to tell them that they support the right to safe and legal abortions.