Shannon Olivieri Hovis, the director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, was trying to get back to sleep early Friday morning after being woken up by her fussy infant, when her phone buzzed with the news she’d been dreading for weeks — the United States Supreme Court had dropped its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years. 

“The first thing I did was just hug her — and then breathe,” Hovis, who was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, told SFGATE over the phone. “And then I cried.”

The Supreme Court decision didn’t come as a surprise. Hovis has dedicated her career to fighting for civil and human rights; she and her colleagues have been preparing for this ever since the decision was leaked in May. But knowing didn’t make the reality any less devastating. 

“I’ve had so many friends reaching out today…calling me or texting me saying, ‘This is hitting me way harder than I thought, I’m in tears,’ and just needing a shoulder to cry on and needing a hug,” Hovis said. “As prepared as we are, it is still the case that this is absolutely devastating. And the consequences to real people’s lives can’t be overstated.”

Hovis appeared alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom and other California leaders Friday to discuss the state’s plans to expand access to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. In California, the legal right to abortion is not currently at risk. But, according to Hovis, 13 states have so-called ‘trigger bans,’ anti-abortion laws set to go into effect as soon as Roe was overturned. At least seven other states will likely outlaw most or all abortions within the next few weeks and months. In total, 33 million women of reproductive age will likely soon lose local access to abortion care. 

SFGATE spoke with Hovis Friday morning to find out what impactful actions Californians who support abortion rights can take. Here’s her advice.

Protestors rally in support of abortion rights near the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, in San Francisco, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Protestors rally in support of abortion rights near the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, in San Francisco, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Kevin Kelleher/Special to SFGATE


“The first and foremost is be as loud as possible, make more noise on this issue than you have ever made. And that actually starts with joining us this evening, at rallies and protests all across the country.”

You can find a list of protests on SFGATE and also at

Donate or volunteer with abortion rights groups

Hovis encouraged people to join NARAL, which has millions of members across the country and 367,000 members in California. NARAL is the political arm of the reproductive freedom movement and its members work to elect leaders who pass policies enhancing reproductive rights. Hovis said that NARAL needs more volunteer help to push through a California reproductive health package that includes 15 bills.

She also recommended getting involved with the California Future of Abortion Council, which further points towards other organizations including Access Reproductive Justice, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Essential Access Health, Planned Parenthood and Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare (TEACH). Find a list of more organizations on the California Future of Abortion Council website.

Vote — and help get other people to the polls

“One of my favorite phrases is, ‘November is coming,’ to hearken to Game of Thrones,” Hovis said. “We know that eight in 10 Americans support the legal right to abortion and did not do not want to see Roe v Wade overturned. They are going to hold these anti-choice legislators, elected officials all across the country accountable for what they have done. And we have an opportunity with this midterm, an opportunity and an obligation to turn out and make sure that we vote these folks out of office, that we elect champions who are truly going to protect our reproductive freedoms.”

Hovis said that people not only need to vote, but can help with phone banking, sending out texts for candidates and hosting events for them.

Volunteer as an escort at abortion clinics

Even though Californians’ legal rights are safe for the time being, anti-abortion protestors can still make the process incredibly stressful for people seeking reproductive care (even if they’re not seeking an abortion), Hovis said. 

Protestors “are emboldened and they are showing up and harassing the patients coming into clinics in California,” Hovis told SFGATE. “We need to make sure that our clinics are safe spaces for all people who need to access care in our state.”

You can learn more about the escort program at Planned Parenthood Northern California.

Do you have ideas for ways Californians can support abortions rights? Email We will post a list next week.

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