On Tuesday, May 21, hundreds of marches were planned across the country to protest new, restrictive abortion laws in some Southern and Midwestern states. One new law, passed in the month of May, criminalizes nearly all abortions in Alabama, while others severely restrict the procedure in the states of Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.
According to NPR, more than 400 marches were conducted across the U.S. on Tuesday.
A minuscule version of those hundreds of marches took place in Malibu, where about 25 people, almost all women, gathered, holding signs on the four corners of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway.
One of the Malibu march’s planners, Alexis Aria, said organizers intended “to send a message that we march in solidarity with all women whose rights are suppressed, and we march against extreme laws and extreme control.” Aria spoke to The Malibu Times on the phone on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 21, a few hours before the march was set to begin at 5:30 p.m.
One of the women who came down to the Civic Center protest was Carol Moss, who prepared a short speech for the occasion.
“Let us protect abortion rights but make that choice meaningful by working for family planning, pre- and post-natal maternity care, family leave, child care and a living wage, for starters,” an excerpt of her statements read. “For those who are passionate about protecting the lives of the fetuses, may they also strive to protect the living by ending gun violence, the death penalty and bloodshed of endless wars.”
The full text of Moss’ message appears in Letters to the Editor on page A4.
Another protestor, holding aloft a sign that simply read “#Me2” was Malibu Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner. When asked about his appearance at the rally, his response was short and to the point: “I support a woman’s choice on her reproductive rights. It’s simple. I’m just sorry that it’s come to this.”
The inspiration for the march emerged organically, Aria said, following news of laws banning nearly all abortions in Alabama and imposing extremely strict limits on abortions in other states. “The idea started with [fellow Malibu resident] Nancy Von Oeyen,” Aria detailed. “She called me up. She wanted a march and I organized it. We started it—we thought about it after we found out about Alabama and the oppressive measures taken in three states: Alabama, Missouri and Georgia.”
Paraphrasing a recent tweet from former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Aria said, “These are extreme laws; they impose one’s own religion onto others and they control a decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.”
When asked on Tuesday how she expected the march to turn out, Aria said it would just be a matter of seeing who turned up at 5:30.
“We are allowing this to be a very organic event; we are spreading the word neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, and we are just going to wait and see what comes,” she said.
Aria, a classical musician, has been a Malibu resident since 2003. The professional harpist and pianist has been volunteering in the community for decades, notably as a community organizer for the Barack Obama presidential campaign.
She said Tuesday’s women’s march was intended to spread love and unity in the Malibu community.
“I actually believe that Malibuites are incredibly caring; many times, when their own rights are protected, they do care about those who are suffering or those whose rights have been taken away,” Aria described. “I think two words describe Malibu the best: ‘love’ and ‘trust.’ And I don’t think anybody should be surprised that Malibuites would like to march against oppression. This has been the culture of Malibu way before I ever moved here.”