Roe v. Wade anniversary inspires flash mob, pro-choice rally, and pro-life march in SF

From Sonoma to Monterey counties, dancers are rehearsing for the flash mob.
Photo by Magalie Bonneau-Marcil

Remember when a dance revolution broke out in Justin Herman Plaza during Occupy San Francisco? This coming Saturday, the same choreographers behind that flash mob for economic justice plan to reignite the public square, this time with a flash mob organized in collaboration with the Silver Ribbon Campaign to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“Roe v. Wade is an invitation to really celebrate women, women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights,” says Magalie Bonneau-Marcil, director of Oakland nonprofit Dancing without Borders, who will direct the Jan. 26 flash mob. She expects between 400 and 500 dancers to descend upon the plaza.

The performance is part of a larger event, Women Life & Liberty, organized to commemorate the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the United States. The Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign is organizing the free celebration in tandem with the National Organization for Women and a coalition of more than 20 local partners.

“Our sense was, it’s an opportunity to claim and reclaim, and revive our activism around the issues that this event is about,” Silver Ribbon Campaign Director Ellen Shaffer told the Guardian. The rally is part of a national effort that has also launched an “online march” for reproductive rights.

Birth control champion Sandra Fluke, who became the center of a firestorm after being lambasted by Rush Limbaugh for testifying before Congress on the need for access to birth control, will speak at the rally.  Other speakers will include filmmaker and Webby Awards Founder Tiffany Shlain, and San Francisco Supes Malia Cohen, David Campos, David Chiu and Eric Mar, who joined the board in adopting a December resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile, an international campaign to end violence against women will also play a role in this weekend’s events. Upon returning to the Bay Area after a dance festival in Europe, Bonneau-Marcil says she saw Eve Ensler’s music video promoting VDay’s 1 Billion Rising Campaign, created to spark a global movement to end violence against women. “I was so moved,” she says.

Inspired, she began making preparations for the Jan. 26 performance and an upcoming Feb. 14 flash mob, to be staged in front of San Francisco City Hall in league with VDay’s global movement.

With recent outrage fueled by the rape and fatal attack in India, the public performances are timely. Bonneau-Marcil describes the public dance gatherings as a way for participants to “share a prayer to create a world free of violence and sexual oppression.” 

But there’s likely to be drama, as the Women Life & Liberty celebration is one of two dueling events. Walk for Life West, essentially the polar opposite of the Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign, is being spearheaded by San Francisco pro-lifers Dolores Meehan and Eva Muntean. Now in its ninth year, the annual event will bring hordes of anti-abortion activists to San Francisco, wielding dead fetus photos. They’ll travel from as far away as Nevada, Canada and “all over the Midwest,” according to Muntean. “We have 200 buses coming from all over the West Coast,” she said.

The anti-abortion rally will feature speakers such as Rev. Clenard Childress, who has built a career out of telling right wing Christians that the pro-choice movement is racist. (Seems Childress also spends his spare time penning inflammatory columns suggesting that acceptance of LGBT rights is “a sign of the end times.”)

The pro-life rally will converge at Civic Center Plaza and progress to – where else? – Justin Herman Plaza. There, according to the event page, revelers from the transformative flash mob may still be celebrating. Expect an awkward buzz kill.

This being San Francisco, plans are already being hatched to counter-protest the anti-abortion event. (Muntean emphasized that Walk for Life West should not be interpreted as counter-protest to the Women Life & Liberty event, by the way.)

Stop Patriarchy, made of up activists who are pro-choice, anti-Democratic party, and even anti-pornography since they deem it to be part of the war on women, plans to stage “boisterous and confrontational political protests throughout the week, taking on the Pro-Lifers who will be in San Francisco,” according to a press release. They’ll be there counter-protesting the Walk for Life with banners and signs declaring, “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!”

Bonneau-Marcil, the flash mob director, says she’s trying to stay out of any back-and-forth that may come from warring factions. "We're not pointing fingers," she says. Instead, she's on a mission to help dancers move in harmony to “access a place where, it’s not about opinions. It’s just about remembering who we are as human beings."

The Women, Life & Liberty rally will be held at Justin Herman Plaza from 10 a.m. to noon. The Dancing Without Borders flash mob performance will take place at 11:30. Anyone can join the flash mob after attending two rehearsals: more info here. The Walk for Life West rally will converge at 12:30 at Civic Center Plaza and begin the procession to Justin Herman at 1:30. More info here, here and here.


If you plan it weeks ahead and then have it mentioned in the paper is it a flash mob?

"Hey everyone, there will be a flash mob on the 14th of Feb. It's not a protest, but a flash mob, you know the difference right?"

I'm as pro abortion as the next person, but keep in mind that adding to a pro-life event by protesting just makes the event more news worthy, thus giving the pro-lifers what they want.

If the pro-lifers wonder around free of shrieking women who have no worries about unplanned pregnancies, the pro-lifers just might lose interest and fade away.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 6:47 am


Flash Mobs don't happen spontaneously. They take huge amounts of planning and coordination, at least the best ones do. And I don't care HOW much planning and publicity go into making a Flash Mob happen, it will still be a surprise to most people. Just wait and see!

Posted by Russ Rogers on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 11:19 am

Flash mobs have now been co-opted by the establishment, evidently.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

only a certain select group of people were supposed to be in the know. Then they would show up some place in diapers or whatever and freak out the squares without the cops or... newspapers knowing.

Now a flash mob is some orderly good fun where hipsters go do yoga and sip tea that was heard about by reading the paper.

This sure turned around quick, it took twenty five years to go from Black Flag to Good Charlette, it took four years to go from lame but sorta wacky. to just lame.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

Flash mob as a term HAS morphed, yes. But, whatever you call it, let's focus on the big picture: women's rights have been eroding all over this country. I went to highschool in Texas in the late 70s. I went to Planned Parenthood for information on STDs, for birth control, and yes, I could have gotten an abortion there. Now, Planned Parenthood has been stripped of federal funding in Texas, and they passed legislation requiring:

--mandatory ultrasound most often with transvaginal probe to "properly" see the fetus for someone who requests an abortion
--mandatory listening to the heartbeat of the fetus
--mandatory listening to a description (written by legislators!) of the parts of the fetus as told to you by the doctor
--mandatory 24 hour waiting period before you can get an abortion.
--mandatory that the same doctor has to both give you the ultrasound and give you the abortion, meaning travelling doctors are inhibited in their services

There are 1,800 places you can get an abortion in this country; there are 2,500 places you can go to get "crisis pregnancy counseling," where abortion may not be one of the options mentioned, but they sure as shit will have you in the stirrups looking at that fetus.


Come join this event, commentors. Get your butts off your computers and dance if you want to, yell if you can, face what's real in this world right now, which is that our fine legislators have proposed 1,100 bills against women's reproductive rights in the past two years, and that it's harder to find a place to get an abortion now than it was in the mid-70's.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

"I'm as pro abortion as the next person, but keep in mind that adding to a pro-life event "

The preferred term, matlock, is "pro-choice." Not just because it's PC, but because it's correct. No one is really "pro-abortion" as the preferred option. We just want the choice to be available.

Likewise, "pro-life" is not really descriptive. Everybody claims to be "pro-life." If anything, the anti-choice right is less "pro-life" with their tendency to support wars of aggression and the death penalty. I prefer the term anti-choice. But if you want to say that's also loaded, then fine. "Anti-abortion" is a neutral and perfectly descriptive term for that POV. Certainly not "pro-life."

"Pro-life" is what they inaccurately call themselves, and "pro-abortion" is the (again inaccurate) term they prefer to call us. Your use of the right's preferred terminology, particularly in light of the fact that it's totally inaccurate, just shows once again what you really are... even as you disingenuously claim to be something else.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 3:46 pm
Posted by matlock on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 11:36 pm

Are you kidding me? Your logic makes no sense. Do some research and take some philosophy classes before reevaluating your argument.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Checked out both the pro-choice rally and the anti-abortion one, and the differences were stark. The anti-abortion forces were far more numerous, because all the churches bus them in from all over California and beyond. But the pro-choice side was definitely livelier.

A lot of elected officials were there of course. It was nice to see Ross, Eliana, and Theo out and about, looking happy now that the city isn't trying to tear their family apart anymore. The flash mob was really cool. Yeah, strictly speaking, it didn't fit the definition of a flash mob, because it was rehearsed, but I won't hold that against them. The Stop Patriarchy contigent was the most militant -as far as I could tell they were the main force behind any counter-protest efforts. Personally, I'm not down with their whole message. They lump a lot of things into their definition of "war on women," like prositution and pornography, which I don't think really belong there. But I applaud their enthusiasm.

The Christian anti-choicers, by contrast, were like an army of zombies. You won't catch them with anything that makes their movement look worse than it already does, because everything was pre-rehearsed from beginning to end. Most of the sign holders were wearing pre-printed signs, so no misspellings. A lot of insignia identifying which Christian council they belonged to, vanilla anti-choice slogans like "abortion stops a beating heart" and "women deserve better than abortion". If you were expecting pictures of gory fetuses, you'd be disappointed. I heard the churches instructed them to keep that stuff at home. In general, it was a really sanitized anti-choice march. The oddest thing was that the churches instructed everyone not to engage with the locals at all. The few people who strayed from the official line and tried to pass out literature or talk to the locals were swiftly approached by "volunteers" who admonished them to remember their training and ushered them on. It's as if they didn't have minds of their own. Just little brainwashed cult drones.

One wonders what the purpose is, of going into new territory where not many people are receptive to the message of theocracy, if you're not even allowed to try to spread that message. I wanted to ask them, "Why do you hate our America's freedoms?" But I never got the chance. I don't think I existed to them. They were like zombies.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

One wonders what the purpose is, of going into new territory where not many people are receptive to the message of theocracy, if you're not even allowed to try to spread that message. I wanted to ask them, "Why do you hate our America's freedoms?" But I never got the chance. I don't think I existed to them. They were like zombies.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

"One wonders what the purpose is, of going into new territory where not many people are receptive to the message of theocracy, if you're not even allowed to try to spread that message. "


"I wanted to ask them, "Why do you hate our America's freedoms?" But I never got the chance."


I don't think I existed to them. They were like zombies.


Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

with pictures of aborted and miscarried fetuses interspersed with biblical quotations? These same people would go crazy if someone displayed video of something positive, like people having sex.

I think the religiosity detracts from their anti-abortion message. But what would you expect from a group being led by people who deny or hide their own sexuality?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:51 am

You hate that 10s of THOUSANDS of people showed up to protest the 50000000 abortions that have been performed since ROE V WADE. War ain't got nothing on progressives.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 9:35 am

I actually don't mind you marching. You're weird, you're crazy, but we have free speech, so you're entitled to your opinions just as we're entitled to ours. I just hope you spent some money in SF because we can always use the tourist dollars... and that you never again become the majority. You people are relics from the 19th century.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:57 am

They can show sex, as long as it ain't the dude or chick or whatever it was that was blowing the bullhorn next to to pro-life display at powell.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 9:37 am

Psychopathic troll.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

I did see that, but that was the only example I saw. That person set up his display long before the march came by, so I'm not sure he was sanctioned by the organizers. That said, the marchers did seem to approve, because although they were coached to keep that stuff to a minimum, they do after all approve of the message.

And yeah, the religiosity does detract from the message, but the religiosity is part and parcel of the message. Without the religiosity, it's hard to develop some of the insane beliefs that they hold.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:53 am

protests at civic center, the ones with strange Israel conspiracy theories promoted from stage, and the 911 truther tables?

Posted by matlock on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

The right are great at being sheep. Their rallies look regimented because they are regimented.

Those of us on the left are more free-thinking, more diverse. So you're going to have a broad coalition of diverse people, and they don't always agree on every issue. They're not as good at being herded into one set of talking points.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:34 pm
Posted by matlock on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:37 am
Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

I'm pretty sure most of the pro abortion crowd won't have to worry about pregnancy, someone has to WANT to do you before that can happen. Seriously, have you seen liberal women?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:30 am

you are a pig troll.

Get over yourself, jerk off.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:44 am

Usually the liberal woman are the easy ones too, at least in my experience. I bedded many a liberal young lady in my late teens early twenties. One time even had 2 at once! Liberals also led me to drugs and crime as well. I was an occupoop before it was hip to poop in a park. Thing is, moving away from the liberal utopia of SF was the best thing that ever happened to me! Luckily I live close enough to watch when the animals escape from the zoo like they did yesterday. PAY FOR YOUR OWN DAMN ABORTIONS AND BIRTH CONTROL!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 9:32 am

If we've gotta pay for your wars, obesity and smoking, then you'd better damn well pay for our abortions. Lots of them. All the time. On command.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:00 am

why are you spending your time commenting on this site? Does sharing your (most probably fantasy) sexual history help you get a boner?

Blaming others for whatever problems you may have had with drugs and crime doesn't show much maturity. I'm glad you moved away from here. Too bad, you haven't grown enough or gotten enough help to move beyond your sociopathy.

Keep posting. Your comments are a strong negative example for your beliefs.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

By the way the Pro-Life movement is all positive. It's the other side that's ending stuff.
And if you don't want to pay for anybody else's wars, please don't enjoy the side benefits: GPS, cell phones, airplanes, any 21st Century technological life. Your stone-age, un-American, child-sacrificing don't belong here.
Remember: innocent until proven guilty, due process, no cruel and unusual punishment.

Posted by Odumba the magnificent on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

In this country we have the freedom to abort an unwanted fetus. If you don't like it, why don't you move to Iran where they don't enjoy these kinds of freedoms that we cherish here in America.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

according to the above poster.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

and specifically a liberal when it comes to social issues.

But if that were true, I wouldn't expect you to automatically jump to attack Greg when he's defending women's choice to an obviously religiously-minded anti-choice zealot; which is exactly what you've done here.

You can *claim* to be moderate, but it's obvious you hold an *abiding* resentment towards liberals/leftists/progressives.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:10 pm
Posted by matlock on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

Obsessive, pathological hatred is more like it.

How odd that someone who describes himself as "pro abortion" is so quick to attack anyone who really is pro-choice. I suppose "pro abortion" is sorta like "severely conservative," rhetorical oddities that don't sound right because the person mouthing them really has no values at all, and is just trying to pander.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

Although there are still so many people who are definitely against the whole concept of pro-choice, there are still so many positive aspects to focus on. The most important one is that this gives women the chance to make a decision that is rightfully theirs to make.

Posted by Danielle on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 9:23 am