Hundreds rally in support of abortion rights at Las Vegas park

Demonstrator Patty Christensen, left, confronts an anti-abortion activist during a pro-abortion ...

Lena and Sierra Castles drove from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to get to Saturday’s rally in support of abortion rights in Las Vegas.

The mother and daughter were two of the hundreds of people who gathered at Sunset Park for an evening rally put on by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund.

The rally was a response to the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion indicating a preliminary tally of votes would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sierra Castles attends college in Texas and was on her way back to Nevada with her mom, who lives in Las Vegas. During the nine-hour drive starting Saturday morning, Lena Castles got a text message from Planned Parenthood about the rally. They decided to go, stopping at home for about 30 minutes to drop off their stuff and make a sign. Written in black letters on neon green paper, it read “My body, my choice.”

Sierra Castles said she was brought up by her mom to support abortion rights but said even if she had not, it’s what she believes. She said they were at the rally to protect the rights of future generations.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Lena Castles said. “Not so much for me but for the future generations.”

Lena Castles said a problem is that while people may say they support women’s rights, not enough come out to show support.

“This is 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. Rep. Dina Titus, spoke for about an hour combined and were met with cheers from the crowd.

“This isn’t a dress rehearsal this time, folks. They are coming for everything,” Sisolak said. “They’re coming for your rights, they’re coming for your freedom and we cannot allow that to happen.”

He called the leaked draft opinion “devastating” for all people.

“We refuse to take a step back,” Sisolak said.

At around 5:30 p.m., a large group that had been in a different area of the park trickled over to the main crowd carrying signs and joining in with chants of “Abortion is health care!”

Raquel Cruz-Juarez with Planned Parenthood said that as of Saturday morning, about 2.500 people had RSVP’d to attend. Cruz-Juarez is the national director for Raiz, a Planned Parenthood program that focuses on “Latinx” communities.

“The goal is to remind folks, elected officials, policy makers, independent abortion providers and also the community that Nevadans believe that abortion is health care,” Cruz-Juarez said.

She said the rally in Vegas was one of many across the nation 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 U.S. from Guatemala, a country where abortion rights are “very restricted,” she said.

Her mother had an abortion in the U.S. and was able to “plan her family.” Cruz-Juarez said Roe v. Wade should be the baseline for abortion rights and needs to be expanded to better protect marginalized communities.

“There’s unfortunately a history of white supremacy in this country that is institutionalized in our systems and in our policy,” Cruz-Juarez said. “So that’s why people (for) like me, maybe Roe v. Wade isn’t as accessible.”

She gave the example of a woman being worried to get an abortion if there is a 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 right shouldn’t be political.”

“It’s always important to let our representatives know what are true wants and 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 whatever they want and need.”

Contact David Wilson at Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.