Students and activists gathered Friday at Sather Gate to protest for and against California’s Proposition 1, which, if voted for, will integrate the right to abortion and contraceptives into the state constitution.
Activists from both sides of the issue began protesting at approximately 10 a.m. on either side of the gate, and over the next two hours, marched around on and off campus.
Around 40 protestors from Pro-Life San Francisco and Students for Life at Berkeley, and around 50 protestors from Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights gathered.
Pro-life activists dressed in blue arrived holding up banners reading “Pro-Life, Pro-Woman” and “Save the Babies,” while pro-choice protestors wearing bright, neon green held up signs that read “Abortion On Demand & Without Apology” and “Keep your Rosaries off my Ovaries.” Protestors also scaled the gate, hit drums and called for support through megaphones.
“Our main goal was trying to get people to understand that Prop. 1 exists and that they should do more research on it and that they should vote against it,” said Kristin Turner, executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco and one of the organizers of the anti-abortion protest.
Prop. 1, which was passed by the California State Assembly in June, is on the November 2022 ballot. If amended, it will prohibit the state from interfering with an individual’s “fundamental right” to choose to have an abortion and to choose or refuse contraceptives, according to the measure’s text.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Bay Area activist Reiko Redmonde said that, upon hearing of the pro-life protest organization on campus, abortion activists needed to “rally people to stand up.”
“This is very serious at a time when over 26 states are outlawing a woman’s right to choose whether and when to have a child,” Redmonde said. “It’s very important that students at UC Berkeley stand up to this and fight for abortion rights. It is healthcare and it’s about women being human beings.”
Turner claimed her organization is nonsectarian and nonpolitical, and aims to stand up and “support human rights for unborn human beings.”
She said the central issue of the protest was not abortion itself, but Prop. 1, which she alleged was “fuel” for the abortion industry.
“Our message was that Proposition 1 is unnecessary and it’s extreme and it’s out of line (with) California voters,” Turner said.
According to Redmonde, anti-abortion laws target doctors, clinics and patients seeking abortion care nationwide. By restricting abortion, these laws also threaten the right to contraception.
She said she supports Prop. 1 as it expands rights to abortion in California.
“To all those who think that women and girls are human beings and who believe that … whoever can get pregnant should be the ones to decide if they want to bear children and when, you need to stand up right now,” Redmonde said.