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In photos: 'Bans Off Our Bodies' rally in Downtown San Diego

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Matthew Bowler
Many of the protesters at the "Bans of Our Bodies" protest and rally in downtown San Diego were not only carrying signs but also dressed as characters from the dystopian science fiction television series The Handmaid's Tale, May 14, 2022.

"Bans off our bodies," that was the rallying cry at more than 300 protests across the country on Saturday.

In San Diego, nearly 5,000 people filled the area in front of the Hall of Justice downtown. The crowd was so large that it spilled over into the Federal Court Plaza across the street.

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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.
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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

The rally, which started at 10 a.m., was organized by Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Women's March San Diego, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest and San Diego NOW.

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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

The rally was held in reaction to the recent leak of a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that enshrined a woman’s right to choose an abortion as a constitutional right.

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Matthew Bowler
Marchers at the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

San Diego resident Miriam Kagen said she’s afraid the country is about to go back to what she called the “dark ages.”

"I think it’s disgusting and disgraceful and shameful that we even have to do this for a woman’s right to choose. I think it’s my body. It’s up to me what I do with it."
Miriam Kagen
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Matthew Bowler
A small group of anti-abortion activists held a tiny counter protest at the "Bans off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

The peaceful group of marchers walked through downtown carrying signs and shouting. Among them was Dr. Mariana Salerno who said she was there for more than just the cause of protecting the right to an abortion.

"It’s really human rights. It’s about equality, it’s about women being treated as citizens and just humans really."
Dr. Mariana Salerno
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Matthew Bowler
A small group of anti-abortion activists held a tiny counter protest at the "Bans off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.
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Matthew Bowler
A small group of anti-abortion activists were confronted by supporters of the "Bans off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

A small group of about 50 anti-abortion activists also held a counter protest.

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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.
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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.
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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of protesters marched in support of the "Bans off our Bodies" rally and march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

Earlier this month, the Women's Health Protection Act, a Democrat-led bill that would effectively codify a right to an abortion, failed to pass with a vote of 49-51.

President Joe Biden released a statement that said "this failure to act comes at a time when women's constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack – and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people."

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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

Meanwhile in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing a new spending proposal to help pay for abortions for women who can't afford them. The plan is meant to prepare the state for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

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Matthew Bowler
Thousands of people participated in the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally and protest march in downtown San Diego, May 14, 2022.

'Bans Off Our Bodies' rally in Downtown San Diego

Matthew Bowler is an award-winning journalist from San Diego. Bowler comes from a long line of San Diego journalists. Both his father and grandfather worked as journalists covering San Diego. He is also a third generation San Diego State University graduate, where he studied art with a specialty in painting and printmaking. Bowler moved to the South of France after graduating from SDSU. While there he participated in many art exhibitions. The newspaper “La Marseillaise” called his work “les oeuvres impossible” or “the impossible works.” After his year in Provence, Bowler returned to San Diego and began to work as a freelance photographer for newspapers and magazines. Some years later, he discovered his passion for reporting the news, for getting at the truth, for impacting lives. Bowler is privileged to have received many San Diego Press Club Awards along with two Emmy's.