With the Downtown Los Angeles city skyline as the backdrop, Rebecca Waite marched over the new 6th Street viaduct chanting bilingually and waving a green scarf in the air.
The modern arches of the bridge represent the future, and so do the green scarves. Trucks honked in solidarity as she and other activists dropped a banner to hang at a busy freeway overpass. Her voice was amplified by other protesters who marched with her.
Waite is a travel nurse who volunteers with RiseUp4AbortionRights.org and an
organizer for the Los Angeles chapter. When the draft decision of Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked over the summer of 2022, Waite started to get involved in the movement to legalize abortion nationwide.
“It keeps me up at night. It wakes me up in the morning. I am already an anxious person,” Waite said. “The least I can do is to speak up and say something.”
Originally from Ohio, Waite has been a nurse for 12 years and travel nurse for the last six years.
“I was never pro-life,” Waite said.“ I had my opinions formed pretty early in my life. But I was not vocally and strongly pro-abortion until I was 18 or 19 years old.”
What she does for work intersects with her activism, as she has seen women bleed over a table.
“She is a nurse, and she has countless stories from before Roe was overturned of
women coming to the hospital and bleeding out with sharp objects inside of them— not knowing how to get an abortion or not having access to one,” said Luna Hernandez, another RiseUp4AbortionRightsActivist.
“I have seen self-induced abortions. Hangers aren’t even the beginning of it,” Waite said.
The Dobbs Decision
In May of 2022, Waite was driving with her firefighter friend up to Redding, Calif., when
she looked at her phone and saw reports of the Supreme Court draft leak.
“I just remember this feeling of sinking and doom. It gives me chills thinking about it now,” Waite said. “There is the realization that this is happening and there is a very real chance that Roe was going to be overturned.”
Shortly after that, she went to a Long Beach march and met people from RiseUp4AbortionRights. She went to a Long Beach action and met volunteers with the group who said that they needed more people.
Formed in January of 2022, RiseUp4AbortionRights saw a vacuum and they saw a demand. It was the only voice that Waite could find that was wanting to fight this decision and not prepare to live in a post-Roe world.
“The draft decision made me sad and scared, but through this collective righteous
fury of the women I was working with, I was mad,” Waite said. “We have to do this thing for women everywhere.”
Throughout the summer, Waite protested and marched around the Los Angeles area, including Venice Beach and Long Beach. At the events, Waite and her fellow activists hand out stickers and flyers to people sitting at outdoor cafes and looky-loos.
RiseUp uses the green scarf (pañuelo verde) as was used in the Green Wave in Latin America, where women rallied together on the streets for abortion rights. The green wave in Latin America started in kitchens and living rooms and built in a grassroots fashion.
Hernandez thinks that she and Waite share the strength of not being afraid to challenge people to not become normalized to this.
“She doesn’t mince words when it comes to the reality of what it means when abortion illegal,” Hernandez said. “She is very good at making the argument to people that voting is not going to be
Chelsea Mesa, an activist and a funeral Arranger in Long Beach said that knows how busy Becca is and that makes her want to keep going.
“I love marching with Becca,” Mesa said. “She keeps it light and fun.”
Danica Riedlinger is one of Waite’s friends, and she has seen Waite’s passion for the abortion rights movement.
“She didn’t even go to my birthday party because she was out there protesting,” she
“She texted me on my birthday right after Roe versus Wade got overturned
and said, ‘Hey girl, I am not going to make it to your birthday. I am protesting in Downtown L.A.’ I feel like that was the best present she could have given me.”
An Uncertain Future for Women
Waite said that most people know someone who has had an abortion, as an average of one in four women get abortion care.
“The people and the entities that have worked hard to overturn Roe and take away abortion rights have the purpose to knock back women and to take away the ability for them to control their futures,” Waite said.
Pierce College History professor Sheryl Nomelli teaches about the Role of Women in American History in her class.
“This is a really controversial topic for a lot of people who have been raised with religious ideology that makes them question their morality and ethics of terminating a pregnancy,” Nomelli said. “What I tell my students is that no matter how you personally feel about whether you could or should end a pregnancy with abortion, you have to ask yourself— is it your right to impose your personal decisions on every other woman in the country?”
Waite said that she was raised very Catholic with conservative and religious parents. Waite no longer holds those religious beliefs she was raised with.
“A lot of the contradictions and a lot of the bigotry that I see in the name of religion has really turned me away from religion,” Waite said. “I respect that
for people. I think that the big thing about bringing religion as a reason to
be against abortion is that it is your religion.”
Waite said that the people that have been affected before the Dobbs decision are the most greatly affected now.
“People who already lived in abortion deserts, the undocumented folks, women who are incarcerated or women who live in abusive or controlling relationships,” Waite said. “They already didn’t have the ability to access the care and abortion services that they needed.”
A lot of the biggest mainstream organizations like Planned Parenthood and a lot of abortion funds want to focus on funding abortions and making abortion pills accessible.
Waite feels like there is a lot of passivity with the abortion rights community, and they
are conceding defeat of living in a post-Roe world of abortion pills, abortion funds and voting.
“None of those things have ever been enough,”Waite said. “Suffragettes didn’t even win the right to vote through voting.”
Waite supports that argument by using the stop the steal movement, where radical right wingers refuse to accept the results of elections.
On top of voting, she believes there are other ways to fight for abortion rights, including conversations with friends and family, photography and creating flyers, art, posters and TikTok videos.
Waite also said that they are always looking for graphic designers and for people in sciences who can write or speak out to spread the green wave.
“To me there is no action too small,” Waite said. “Anybody that speaks up and cares about a cause is an activist.”