Fresno city leaders support abortion rights during Planned Parenthood California bus tour

·3 min read

Fresno was the first public stop for a Planned Parenthood bus tour advocating the importance of California continuing its leadership as a “reproductive freedom state.”

The event was in response to the recent leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion showing plans to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade case that has provided federal protections for nearly half a century to women seeking abortions.

That decision will affect 36 million women across the United States, including within over 26 states “poised to institute bans on abortion – and half the country will be without services,” said Jodi Hicks, chief executive officer and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, during a news conference Tuesday morning outside the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.

Hicks was one of five speakers, including another Planned Parenthood leader, a Fresno rabbi, and two members of the Fresno City Council.

Jodi Hicks, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, answers questions from the media during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.
Jodi Hicks, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, answers questions from the media during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.

Hicks said Planned Parenthood put together a council of over 40 organizations that have provided recommendations to the state, which has already introduced over a dozen bills related to this issue, backed with funding, to ensure that California will remain a “haven state” for women seeking abortions.

Planned Parenthood in California is preparing for an additional 250 to 500 patients a week coming into the state, said Stacy Cross, chief executive officer and president of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which covers half of California and most of Nevada.

“Making abortion illegal does not make it go away,” Cross said. “It just makes it unsafe for people seeking abortion and can impact their fertility forever.”

As patient numbers are expected to grow in California, Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza said, “the city of Fresno can play a critical role in the expansion of facilities and land-use decisions that impact the physical spaces where Planned Parenthood operates,” in addition to making sure women’s voices are heard through the formation of a new Women’s Commission.

“I’m proud to be here with Planned Parenthood, an organization that continues to build our infrastructure of health care providers and life-saving health care services to the people who need it the most, in the most underserved communities, such as the folks in the region that I represent on the City Council,” Esparza said.

Jodi Hicks, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, backed by Stacy Cross, left, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Fresno city councilmembers Nelson Esparza and Esmeralda Soria, and Fresno Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, speaks during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.
Jodi Hicks, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, backed by Stacy Cross, left, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Fresno city councilmembers Nelson Esparza and Esmeralda Soria, and Fresno Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, speaks during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.

The event followed rallies across the country on Saturday, including hundreds who gathered in Fresno, protesting the expected overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Planned Parenthood’s “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour started with the “Bans Off Our Bodies” march and rally at the state Capitol. The bus will stop in a number of California communities before reaching its final destination in Long Beach on May 25.

Fresno Rabbi Laura Novak Winer said she spoke at Tuesday’s news conference as a representative of a large group of interfaith leaders who support “a woman’s right to choose, and a woman’s right to health care.”

Winer said in her tradition of Judaism, “the mother’s life always comes first” when making difficult health care decisions.

Fresno Rabbi Laura Novak Winer speaks during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.
Fresno Rabbi Laura Novak Winer speaks during the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno on May 17, 2022.

Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said access to “safe, legal abortion” is a right, and that she supports it “as a woman, as a Latina, and as someone that grew up in the Catholic faith,” adding that 77% of Americans from all backgrounds don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

“Abortion is truly health care,” Soria said, “and having safe access to health care for women, women of color, women of disadvantaged backgrounds, is critical in our community and critical in our nation. I don’t have a personal story, but I know personally many different women that have made a choice to terminate their pregnancy, all for very different reasons. ... For women, it’s not an easy decision, but what we have to remember is that it is critical that we support them, that we treat this issue and the folks that go through it in a dignified way.”

The pink bus run by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California stands parked in the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno during their “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop on May 17, 2022.
The pink bus run by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California stands parked in the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno during their “Powered by Pink” Bus Tour stop on May 17, 2022.