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Original photo by Kara Thompson

Women’s March 2021 Tackles Reproductive Rights

Just one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017, women around the world took to the streets to demonstrate their support for gender equality and civil rights. Now, women across the U.S. are joining together again in response to Texas’s Heartbeat Act.

The act, also known as Senate Bill 8, went into effect in September 2021. The law bans abortions once a fetal hearbeat has been detected, something that typically occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy. A large issue with this bill is that most women would not even know they were pregnant at that time. 

While the law does make some exceptions in cases of health issues, those circumstances are very specific, with no exceptions in cases of incest or rape.

“I don’t know how that is legal, I don’t know how, in a developed country, we allow that,” said Josie Jack, a sophomore journalism student. “I think it’s disgusting that women’s rights are taken away and doctors can’t do their jobs.”

The Women’s March in January 2017 was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Though on a smaller scale, this is the first demonstration organized by Women’s March since then. 

“I think showing up to protest is kind of like voting where individually, it feels like you don’t matter. But if everyone said that then no one would vote and then the election really wouldn’t matter. It’s kind of the same of protesting,” said Jack. “If every single person thinks, ‘oh, well I should go to be one more person’ that will have thousands of people and that sends a message to politicians, to the world, to other US citizens.” 

Critsela Alonzo, a stand-up comedian and activist, hosted the rally in Freedom Plaza prior to the march. She spoke about being a first generation Mexican-American, as well as her mother being the first woman in her family to leave an abusive husband.

“I just was really inspired by that story, to see how strong she was,” said Ryann Bloom, a sophomore criminology and psychology double major. “Sharing stories like that is really important to show how strong women are.”

Other speakers at the rally included Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 athlete, and Monica Simpson. Simpson is an activist, speaker, and organizer who serves as the executive director of Sister Song, an organization designed to fight for reproductive rights for indigenous women and women of color. 

The march began a little after 1:30 p.m. — starting in Freedom Plaza and ending at the Supreme Court. Attendees carried signs with sayings like “Abortion is healthcare” while chanting phrases like, “My body, my choice.”

Some people even carried signs saying that they had protested for abortion access back in the 70s, when Roe v. Wade was being decided. 

“I really liked the sensitivity for everyone of all genders and all ages,” said Bloom. “Seeing all the young kids there was really heartwarming, and to see how parents are raising their kids to be so open-minded and accepting.”

The initial refusal of the Supreme Court to block the Texas law was only a provisional ruling, meaning that it can be changed later. 

The Court, which returned to session on Monday, October 4, is set to hear a case from Mississippi where a state law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case will decide whether or not Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The current Texas law does not violate Roe v. Wade, since it relies on private citizens suing those who provide or receive abortions, instead of state enforcement of a ban. 

“Abortion is a right that everyone with a uterus should get a chance to make,” said Bloom. “I think it’s unfair for people to take that choice away.”

Kara Thompson is a sophomore Journalism and Government & Politics double major at the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to writing for HerCampus, she is a copy editor for Stories Beneath the Shell, another UMD publication.
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