"Do I have some angry people out there?" Joy Silverasked a crowd of hundreds gathered in Palm Springs on Saturday morning.
Abortion rights supporters cheered in response to the question by Silver,one of the event organizers and a political advocate.
Abortion-rights advocates gathered in Palm Springs, in Washington, D.C. and by state capitol buildings across the country Saturday for a challenging task: persuading the Supreme Court notto reverse the 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
"From the moment we were brought into this world, we were forced to fight,"CSU San Bernardinostudent Areli Galvez told the crowd assembled at Frances Stevens Park in Palm Springs. "But no one should have to fight to keep control over their own bodies."
"What we are united in is that every human has agency over our own rights," said Julie Bornstein, a former state assembly member.
More than 380 "Bans Off Our Bodies"demonstrations for abortion rights were plannedfor Saturday, with the largest crowdsexpected inNew York City, Los Angeles,Chicago, and Austin, Texas, according to organizers. Sponsors of the daylong event includeWomen's March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet,MoveOn, the American Civil Liberties Union and theNational Abortion Rights Action League.
Planned Parenthood began organizing the nationwide "day of action" months before adraft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decisionleaked, sparkingcelebrations from anti-abortion demonstratorsandprotests outside the Supreme Court.
The leaked ruling has not been published, and therefore has yet to take effect. Butif authorized in its current form, which could happen in the next few months,it would provide states with the sole authority to regulate abortion care.
Darrah Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, told The Desert Sun last week that while disturbing to reproductive rights advocates, the leaked ruling wasn't a surprise.
"It's not unexpected, and the work that's been going on from the anti-abortion movement, from people who oppose a person's right to make a decision for their own body has been decades in the making," Johnson said.
Johnson's facilities provide reproductive health care services to more than 130,000 people a year in Riverside, Imperial and San Diego counties, with two Planned Parenthood centers in the Coachella Valley.
NBC reported that 13 states have already moved to ban abortions should the Supreme Court opiniontake effect, with another dozen substantially restricting such procedures.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators quickly moved to disavow the leaked opinion, saying the state could amend its constitution to "enshrine the right to choose" permanently.
Burke Strunsky, who is currently running to be the county's district attorney, drew on his two-decade tenure as a prosecutor and, currently, a superior court judge to say the reversal threatened more than just healthcare.
"I have seen all kinds of violence," Strunsky told the crowd Saturday. "So, I can tell you without hesitation that forcing a woman to remain pregnant against her will is in fact an act of violence."
He emphasized the point by saying he was motivated to speak, in part, to help fight for the rights of his daughter and others whose individual rights are at stake.
"And, make no mistake, we've only seen the first domino fall," Strunsky added.
Jamie Trachtenberg, co-chair of Courageous Resistance's Women's Issues Committee, said supporters came out despite the 90-degree morning temperatures because they understand if the court rules as it appears to be about to,"the ramifications are tremendous."
"We are very angry and disturbed about this," she said, adding that she believes it's important for others to keep in mind the consequences of the potential law change arefar-reaching. "This can set a precedent for losing all kinds of rights. Not just abortion, but gay marriage. We know that voting is our best way of changing what's happening, and we encourage everyone to vote in the midterms."
Robert Carey, who splits his time between Palm Springs and Los Angeles, made a similar point. He came insupport of the demonstration with a group of friends, his mother and uncle, saying he found the speakers "inspirational."
"I don't want to make this about anything other than what it is today, but this could spread," Carey said, vowing his support. "I'm here today becausewhen they threaten gay rights, women will be there too."
Susan Morow, Carey's mother and a Palm Springs resident, said she couldn't help but cry as she listened to the speakers.
Morow described how it reminded her of the years when she wasrequired to have her husband's permission to seek birth control, policies she thought were history. She was motivated, in part, to attend because of her granddaughter,she said, who as a teenager can't yet vote but could soon reach adulthood in a post-Roeworld.
"This is scary stuff," she said
Other"Bans Off Our Bodies" rallies were scheduledin Riverside and Temecula. The event in Palm Springs was coordinated by the Women's March Foundation, Planned Parenthoodand local advocacy groupsCourageous Resistanceand Indivisible of the Desert.
The protest wasn't the only one planned inthe Coachella Valley on Saturday. A similar action was planned in Palm Desert, but the event's organizer decided to merge it with the Palm Springs event. TheFeminism in Action (FIA) Reproductive Rights Protest was largely coordinated by a student group from Palm Desert High School.
"This is more than just a single issue; it's an avalanche of related issues," said Elise Pardue,FIA president and a Palm Desert High junior. "We're protesting for many reasons, emotional and legal. The attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade would destroy our democracy."
Those high stakes are what motivated Pardue to facilitate the march in a hope that her peers who are also reaching voting age will take action.
"We all need to make a conscious decision to elect politicians who align with our values, to elect people who will keep abortion safe and legal," Pardue said.
USA Today contributed to this report.