By Verbal Adam | OBSERVER Correspondent
On what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, policymakers and supporters gathered outside of the California State Capitol for the official launch of a traveling interactive art project called “My Body, My Voice.” The project is a joint venture between California Planned Parenthood and art consultant, producer and media strategist Tre Borden. Their collaboration, called the VoiceBox, offers a mobile platform for people to speak about reproductive and abortion rights and experiences.
“We allow people to go inside the art installation and share their own personal experiences with reproductive freedom and health, have a moment of solidarity with Planned Parenthood, and what it means to use your voice and be an advocate for what you believe in,” said Borden, a former Sacramento resident.
Joined by First Partner Jennifer Seibel Newsom and actress Connie Nielsen, members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus gave powerful, candid testimony of their personal experiences with reproductive rights and the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the conservative-led Supreme Court.
“Just last year, the [Supreme] Court, now packed with conservative justices, stripped millions of Americans of basic bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. The court’s message sent a clear message that women’s progress has sparked fear in those who are determined to uphold the patriarchy and its ensuing misogynistic systems and ideologies,” Newsom told the crowd.
“And they know that by controlling our bodies, they can halt our progress. The story of life that the Supreme Court’s decision and state abortion bans seek to tell is simply untrue. They aren’t trying to save lives or protect children. On the contrary, by banning access to abortion care, they’re actually endangering lives and attempting to control one of the most personal choices a human being could ever make.”
Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) spoke candidly about her experience getting an abortion after life-threatening pregnancy complications.
“Although the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, their reckless decision cannot take away the profound impact that Roe v. Wade had on our lives,” she said. “When I think about the impacts of Roe v. Wade, I think about my life and moments in my life where Roe v. Wade allowed me to make decisions about my body, my choice, my economic well-being and my family.
“The right took on a different significance for me when, at age 21, I had to make a tough decision of my own. I remember looking up at the ceiling, feeling the fluorescent lights, holding the hand of my loved one with doctors and nurses around me, protecting me, guiding me through a decision that saved my life at the time. I remember that procedure. I remember the security of the space. I remember that it was a medical facility with doctors who were not harassed. I remember that it was a place where I was able to receive counseling afterwards.
“And I remember that because of that decision, my family was able to realize what it needed to do in terms of ending poverty in my family forever. That pregnancy was one of seven. I went on to have three miscarriages and three wonderful children. And each of those moments were choices. My choice with my family, not the government. I’m grateful to have had that choice. I’m grateful to have had that health care.”
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, California passed Proposition 1, ensuring that abortions will remain legal in the state by adding abortion rights into the state constitution. Newsom spoke about its passage: “The story we’re telling here in California is actually about life. It’s about ensuring the reproductive freedom of all pregnant people. We passed strong policies and even enshrined the right to an abortion in our state’s constitution. Thanks to California voters so that people in California and those traveling here for abortion care can access the care that they need in a safe and healthy environment.”