Students Rally for Reproductive Rights Ahead of Midterm Elections

Students Rally for Reproductive Rights Ahead of Midterm Elections

Just ahead of the midterm elections, dozens of students gathered outside Geisel Library on Friday, Oct. 28, in support of Proposition 1, which would amend the California State Constitution to codify abortion rights. In addition to a handful of student speakers, Chair of the California Democratic Party Rusty Hicks, California Secretary of State Doctor Shirley Weber, and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) spoke at the event, reflecting the importance of the issue to various levels of governance.

Part of a statewide effort, the rally aimed to raise voter turnout and educate Californian students about the importance of taking action to protect reproductive rights. Unlike the entirely student-run reproductive rights rally held on campus last spring amidst the leaked Supreme Court opposition to Roe v. Wade, this rally was organized directly in collaboration with the California Democratic Party. Colleges across the state, including five other UC campuses, are scheduled to hold affiliate rallies between Oct. 28 and Nov. 7. 

Voting “yes” on Prop 1 would allow for the rights to abortion and contraceptives to be explicitly noted in the State Constitution, adding another layer of protection for reproductive rights in California.  

Before the speakers addressed the crowd, students lined up for free t-shirts, tote bags, and stickers that were supplied by Planned Parenthood and the California Democratic Party. Advocates chatted with those in line, passing along an email sign-up sheet and answering any questions that attendees had about voting and Proposition 1. 

The rally began with Earl Warren College junior Sparky Mitra, one of the student organizers of the rally, who spoke briefly about her experience being from Texas, a state which has severely restricted reproductive rights for its citizens. 

“The consequences of staying silent are not just on the horizon anymore,” Mitra said. “They are here. My brothers, sisters, and cousins in my home state of Texas have already seen their rights taken. Choice has become too expensive under tyrants nationwide. This proposition will ensure that our choice to access reproductive healthcare remains free and fair.”  

Although California has already made strides for reproductive rights — with most healthcare facilities providing abortion care, and all University of California and California State University campuses preparing to offer abortion pills by January of 2023 — Proposition 1 would further enshrine this right. 

In an interview prior to the rally, Mitra explained that further solidifying abortion rights in California doesn’t just help those who live in the state but those in other parts of the country as well, as many travel to California to access safe and legal abortion care. 

“It needs to be a steadfast reality that abortion care will be accessible to anyone who comes to California, no matter where they’re from, no matter how long they’ve been here, if they’re a student, if they’re a parent, [or] if they’re undocumented,” Mitra said. 

Student volunteers led chants of phrases like “My body, my choice” and “The people united will never be divided.” Their voices echoed down Library Walk, drawing a larger crowd as the rally went on. 

Weber spoke about how her experience growing up as the daughter of sharecroppers in Hope, Arkansas helped her understand the importance of voting. 

“Our democracy is fragile, it is in peril,” Weber said. “Now is your moment as a student … and the question is what will your children say in 30 or 40 years about what you did in this moment? Will they say that you did it, that you stood up and maintained the freedom and justice that we long for and that we deserve? Or will they say … that they talked about stuff that they could’ve changed, and they chose not to?” 

As more students filled in the gaps outside of Geisel during Weber’s speech, student leaders handed out posters that read “abortion is healthcare” and “safe + legal abortion = pro life” for them to hold. 

Among the student speakers was Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Becca Levinsohn, who spoke to the crowd on behalf of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, a campus organization that advocates for access to sexual and reproductive care. Other speakers included Hicks and Scott Peters, both of whom emphasized the power in numbers and persistence. 

“We have to win elections. Let’s start with Prop 1, like they did in Kansas [and] like they did in Michigan,” Peters said. “Let’s protect our home turf here. Let’s pass Prop 1 and get this right embedded in the constitution here, and then, let’s win the national elections back.”

Mitra formally concluded the rally by reminding students to vote in the upcoming midterms and pointing out where students can vote on campus. 

Election Day is Nov. 8, and a ballot drop off box is available on campus outside the Price Center for voters to drop off their signed and sealed mail-in ballots. Geisel Library will also host a Vote Center in the Seuss Room where voters can cast ballots and return mail-in ballots from Oct. 29 through election day. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 7, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Editor’s note: Event organizer Sparky Mitra is also the opinion editor for The UCSD Guardian; she was not involved in the production or publication of this article in any way.

Photo by Kathleen Shiroma for the UCSD Guardian

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    AndresOct 30, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Prop. 1 is extreme, expensive, and unnecessary.
    It will allow late-term abrtns up to moments before birth, even on healthy moms and healthy babies, and the cost to taxpayers for abrtns will be in the hundreds of millions.

    Vote No On Prop 1!