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A reproductive rights leader in Santa Cruz on the post-Roe future

Hundreds of people gathered at the Santa Cruz Courthouse to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Anne Beulke
Hundreds of people gathered at the Santa Cruz Courthouse to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

There is no longer a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe Versus Wade is ending nearly 50 years of abortion access that was, until today, considered law.

This decision was not unexpected. A draft of the opinion was leaked in early May. But that early warning did little to cushion the blow for reproductive rights advocates.

Cynthia Mathews spent her career fighting for reproductive rights. She played a key role bringing Planned Parenthood to Santa Cruz over 50 years ago. She also served three terms on Santa Cruz City Council and twice as its mayor.

“What I’m hearing is just massive outrage,” she said. “The reality of it is hitting people so powerfully. It’s going to affect hardest the people who have the fewest resources.”

Thirteen states have what are called “trigger laws,” where abortion will be made illegal within 30 days. In total, 22 states are expected to outlaw abortions to varying degrees.

But California is working to expand abortion access in the state, and to make those services available to women from states where abortion is illegal.

Mathews said most of those women will rely on cities with major airports, like Los Angeles and San Francisco. But some could travel to the Monterey Bay region.

“People go where they have friends or where they have family,” she said.

Meanwhile, reproductive rights protests and marches are expected across California, including in Santa Cruz.

“It's really easy to be depressed on a day like this, but we don't give up,” she said. “I do believe it's waking up a whole new generation. Seriously.”

Jerimiah Oetting is KAZU’s news director. Prior to his career in public media, he was a field biologist with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service.