West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister, Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne, and council member Lindsey Horvath joined community leaders and organizations for a press conference today, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at 12 p.m., to speak out in defense of reproductive rights and to condemn the most recent attack on Roe v Wade after a leaked draft opinion shows U.S. Supreme Court justices poised to overthrow a woman’s right to choose.
“I was not surprised but still shaken,” said Mayor Meister of Justice Samuel Alito’s position to ban most abortions. “I think we all saw this coming, but it is still very disappointing.”
Speakers took turns at a podium before major local news outlets.
“This ruling will make life for so many women and transgender men hell,” said Mayor Pro Tem Shyne. “We need to fight. We need to organize. We need to reach out to the folks from the organizations who will be speaking today. Reach out to us. We will let you know the resources that we have, and we will come up with an action plan and continue to fight. We need to be in the streets like never before to put pressure on these justices and let them know that will not allow time to be turned back.”
“The news underscores what advocates have been saying, that we must act now to be prepared for the end of the right to abortion in this country,” said council member John Erickson via a statement. “West Hollywood is the first city in the country to declare itself pro-choice and we will always rise up and fight against these oppressive draconian rulings. This news is terrifying. It is a wakeup call for millions of people who thought the US Supreme Court would protect them from this dangerous direction, and more importantly, from the scarier decisions yet to come for countless people. The time to act is now. Fight like hell and vote like your life depends on it because it just might.”
“We have to stand strong, show up every day, and let the people in the Supreme Court know–especially those who are still thinking about how they are going to weigh in–that we are not going to go back.” said council member Lindsey Horvath. “We aren’t going back to back-alleys. We are not going back to the closet. We are not turning back time. We are marching forward… it’s devastating to think our government would attempt to roll back decades of legal precedence to undermine what has been a constitutional right in this country. We know it doesn’t stop at abortion. We know it doesn’t stop at marriage equality. We know it doesn’t stop at all the progress we have made by legal precedence.”
“There are no words to adequately describe a Supreme Court opinion outlawing the right to choose and robbing women of their reproductive freedom,” said Congressman Adam Schiff, via a statement read by his representative Mike Aguliera. “If Roe is overturned it will establish a law for millions of women who will lose their right to make their own decisions… It is not too late to protect the right to choose. Congress must codify protections for abortion rights by abolishing the filibuster and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act now.”
“I’m here today furious and dedicated even more than ever before to the fight for women’s right to choose,” said Karen Ayres, the President of Hollywood NOW, a chapter of the National Organization for Women. “This is a healthcare issue. This is about taking healthcare away from women and transgender men, many of whom can also get pregnant and may need to seek abortion care. Let’s not forget about transgender men in this argument… I am lucky and I am grateful that l live in the pro-choice city of West Hollywood. I am grateful that I am represented in congress by a pro-choice leader like Adam Schiff, but so many people across this country don’t have that luck.”
“This is a full-on assault and attack on women of color; on Black and brown women; on young women; on women of social and economic backgrounds; on the vulnerable,” said Shannon Morton the founder of Black Women Lead. “Shame on the Supreme Court. Shame on you for not protecting the bodies that you claim to love… If they think that women are going to hell for having an abortion, let’s show them what hell is on earth. Take it to the streets. Call your senators… We are lucky to be here in California, but we aren’t lucky if our sisters aren’t lucky. Think about other people.”
Luckie Alexander Fuller, the Chair of Trans Advisory Council, said this was not just a woman’s issue but a human issue. “As a trans man that has given birth, I want to make sure my sisters and my siblings have a choice, but I also want to make sure my brothers have a choice. Trans men, we often get sexually assaulted. We need to have a choice… we need to codify Roe vs Wade, that way everyone has a choice.”
“Elections have consequences,” said Marquita Thomas, executive director of the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and a West Hollywood Planning Commissioner. “I, like most of you, have been hearing that Roe v Wade was in jeopardy for quite some time. As terrifying as that thought was, I needed to believe that as a nation we were better than this–that a woman’s bodily autonomy would be protected by the court created to adhere to the values of this country. Yesterday’s news gutted me. It not only gutted me as a woman, but as a black woman. This decision is not only an assault on women, but women of color—Black women, Hispanic women, and Indigenous women in particular. It is not only rooted in misogyny, but racism and white supremacy. The Black maternal death rate is such a crisis, that in 2020, a presidential candidate added it to their platform and an entire week has been dedicated to addressing it. Black women experience maternal mortality at a rate two, to three times higher than that of white women due to lack of access to care and systemic racism in health care… Now more than ever Black women need access to safe abortions. Access to abortion is essential. Being a mother is a gift, but women should give birth because they want to, not because they are forced to.”
Thomas pointed out that all is not lost, and abortion is still the Law of the Land. She urged the senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which has already passed the House and should be put on President Biden’s desk.
Other speakers included President of the Stonewall Democratic Club, Alex Mohajer, Gay and Lesbian Advisory Board member Zekiah Wright, Human Services Commissioner and President of the Los Angeles Chapter of National Women’s Political Caucus, Chelsea Byers.
“I think what we heard today today is extremely important, and I hope that our elected are listening at a federal level,” said Mayor Meister after the press conference. “It’s obvious we do need to get rid of the filibuster. We need to pass healthcare rights to protect women and transgender men. And we need to codify Roe vs Wade. While we’re at it, on our wish list is expanding the Supreme Court, or disbanding them because they’ve become a political body that can’t be trusted.”
“Im sure there will be more rallies,” she added. “We are going to be hiring new lobbyist for both the state and federal levels and we obviously have our work cut out for us.”