Lena and Sierra Castles traveled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Saturday’s rally in support of abortion rights in Las Vegas.
The mother and daughter were two of hundreds who gathered in Sunset Park for an evening rally organized by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund.
The rally was a response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion stating that a preliminary vote count would upset Roe against Wade.
Sierra Castles is attending college in Texas and was on her way back to Nevada with her mother, who lives in Las Vegas. During the nine-hour drive beginning Saturday morning, Lena Castles received a text from Planned Parenthood about the rally. They decided to go, stopping at their house for about 30 minutes to drop off their things and wave. Written in black letters on fluorescent green paper, it read “My body, my choice”.
Sierra Castles said she was raised by her mother to support abortion rights, but said that even if she didn’t, that’s what she believes. She said they were at the rally to protect the rights of future generations.
“That’s what worries me,” said Lena Castles. “Not so much for me as for future generations.”
Lena Castles said one problem is that while people can say they support women’s rights, there aren’t enough statements to show their support.
“It’s a good turnout, but I think there should be more,” she said.
A handful of elected officials, including Gov. Steve Sisolak, Lt. Gov. Lisa Cano Burkhead, Attorney General Aaron Ford and U.S. Representative Dina Titus, spoke for about a combined hour and were greeted by cheers from the crowd.
“It’s not a dress rehearsal this time, folks. They come for everything,” Sisolak said. “They’re coming for your rights, they’re coming for your freedom and we can’t allow that to happen.”
He called the leaked draft notice “devastating” for everyone.
“We refuse to back down,” Sisolak said.
At around 5:30 p.m., a large group that was in another area of the park rushed towards the main crowd carrying signs and joining in chants of “Abortion is health care!”
Raquel Cruz-Juarez of Planned Parenthood said Saturday morning about 2,500 people had confirmed their attendance. Cruz-Juarez is the national director of Raiz, a Planned Parenthood program that focuses on “Latinx” communities.
“The goal is to remind people, elected officials, policymakers, independent abortion providers, and the community that the people of Nevada believe abortion is health care,” Cruz said. Juarez.
She said the rally in Vegas was one of many across the country on Saturday.
Cruz-Juarez said the overturning of Roe v. Wade will disproportionately affect people of color and the LGBTQ community. She immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, a country where the right to abortion is “very restricted”, she said.
Her mother had an abortion in the United States and was able to “plan her family”. Cruz-Juarez said Roe v. Wade should be the basis of abortion rights and needs to be expanded to better protect marginalized communities.
“There is unfortunately a history of white supremacy in this country that is institutionalized in our systems and in our politics,” Cruz-Juarez said. “That’s why people (for) like me, maybe Roe v. Wade isn’t as accessible.”
She gave the example of a woman fearful of having an abortion if there is an immigration checkpoint between her and the nearest clinic.
Gabby Clawson was born and raised in Las Vegas and carried a sign Saturday that read “Reproductive rights shouldn’t be political.”
“It’s always important to let our reps know what the real wants, feelings and desires are,” Clawson said. “If we don’t stand up and show them what we really want or what we really need, then they’re going to do what they want and need.”
Contact David Wilson at [email protected] Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.