Pro-choice supporters gathered Saturday for the Los Angeles Walk for Choice in downtown LA to advocate for women’s reproductive rights responding to the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3), as well as recent federal funding cuts to Planned Parenthood.
H.R. 3 was introduced into Congress in January by Representative Christopher Smith. The bill prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion as well as indirect funds going towards programs that could possibly make contact with abortion services.
The House of Representatives approved a Republican proposal Feb. 18 that will block federal aid to Planned Parenthood.
In response to the acts by Congress, pro-choice activist Raven Geary began planning the ‘Walk for Choice in Chicago.’ She soon received messages from others, expressing the desire to start walks in their own cities.
Supporters gathered at Pershing Square at 11 a.m. The crowd swelled to more than 100 by noon.
The route began at Pershing Square and ended near the intersection of Temple and Spring Streets.Because of pro-union demonstrations in front of City Hall, the marchers walked to City Hall expressing their solidarity with the pro-union demonstrators and the Wisconsin union workers.
Katherine Hertz, 20, helped coordinate the walk and was one of the first to address the crowd of supporters.
“I’m so glad all of you showed up, this is awesome,” Hertz said.
Chants could be heard for several blocks. Participants yelled, “Our bodies, our rights, our right to decide.” The chant was followed by another, “Not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate.”
Marchers held colorful and decorated signs declaring similar sentiments. Many passersby and motorists declared support.
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr were instrumental in organizing the walk.
Through the use of these sites the walk soon spread to other cities such as San Diego and Nashville, and extended overseas to Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
Eduardo Cervantes, 35, organized the Los Angeles walk through a Facebook event page. By inviting his friends and family and asking them to invite others, the word began to spread, he said.
“(Social networking) was everything. Without that there would be nothing,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes saw H.R. 3 as an attack on women’s rights.
“I think it’s wrong for government to interfere with personal lives, real personal private decisions of women,” he said.
Jessica Roy, 24, of the Tumblr blog ‘STFU Conservatives,’ was also present at the walk to show her support.
“I think choice is so unbelievably important. It’s a legal right we have and they’re trying to take it away from us. The GOP declared a war on women and we’re saying ‘no,’” Roy said.
Miguel Gutierrez, 23, attended the walk with several of his friends and expressed concern over the cuts to Planned Parenthood.
“I think they’re very misguided. They’re coming after Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions…when really abortions are a small portion of what they do,” Gutierrez said.
Hertz was proud of the walk’s outcome, despite the short amount of time organizers had to prepare for the walk.
“I’m really glad we came (to City Hall) to united with the Wisconsin union workers,” she said. “Both of the issues matter to us and we hope more people show up the next action we do.”