Why I march

Ellie Fischman, Assistant Sports Editor

Rallying cries soared through the air, Freedom Plaza’s collective heartbeat on a recent Saturday morning. Whose body? My body! Whose choice? My choice! As I looked at the countless protestors at the Women’s March for Reproductive Justice, an indescribable feeling of empowerment overwhelmed me. My feet planted themselves on the asphalt because I knew that this was precisely where I needed to be.

On Oct. 2, the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood and over ninety other organizations hosted a march against a new Texas abortion law. This legislation prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and the only exception to this rule is if there is a medical emergency. 

However, the law does not define what qualifies as a medical emergency. Worst of all, it incentivizes ordinary citizens to prosecute abortion providers with a $10,000 reward and a reimbursement of all legal fees. 

Personally, I think this law is asinine. It criminalizes abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Most women don’t even know that they are pregnant at this point, let alone have time to make the emotionally-charged decision to have an abortion. 

Above all, what makes me angry about the law is that it treats pregnant women as subhuman beings who are incapable of making sane decisions. It’s ridiculous that Texas lawmakers don’t trust women with a simple choice, yet they trust them with the enormous responsibility of caring for a child. 

Most lawmakers can’t possibly understand what it must be like to be pregnant with a rapist’s baby, or to be pregnant with a baby that you can’t provide for or any of the other impossible situations that might motivate a woman to have an abortion. Women should have the right to decide for themselves when an abortion is necessary. 

This is why I march. I am terrified and I am mad. As I marched, a potent feeling of rage coursed through me at the mere thought that anyone presumed that they could tell me what to do with my body, my decisions, my life. 

Comedian, actress and Texas native Cristela Alonzo hosted the march and opened it with a speech that really struck me. “I gotta say, I love my home state,” Alonzo said. “But that is why I’m here today. I love my home state of Texas so much that I am willing to fight for what is best for the people in it.”

Those words empowered me. Those words made me stand up taller. I feel that it is my duty to fight for Texas however I can. 

As the protest came to an end, we encountered a horde of counter protesters. They held up signs with grotesque images of aborted fetuses and chanted “Abortion hurts women!” There were police barricades and several feet of separation, and yet, their presence cast a large shadow over the crowd.

But knowledge is power. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately fourteen times higher than that with abortion.” 

The only time that abortion is a major concern for a woman’s wellbeing is when abortion is illegal.

The Guttmacher Institute says that in regions with heavy restrictions on abortion, approximately 31% of abortions are unsafe. However, in settings with minimal restrictions on abortion, as low as 1% of abortions are unsafe. 

Basically, the Texas law does not prevent abortion—it prevents safe abortion. Those counter protestors can chant until their voices grow hoarse, but in reality, they are the ones who are fighting for policies that harm women.

Instead of Texas focusing time and resources on counterproductive policies that wage war on reproductive rights, they should focus on improving foster care systems, lowering the poverty rate, improving neonatal care, creating affordable childcare and creating more jobs with livable wages. 

At the end of the day, there was so much about that march that resonated with me. However, nothing could impact me more than seeing a girl who couldn’t have been any older than six holding a sign that said, “You’re doing this for me.” By the end of the rally, her arms must have hurt, but she still stood there, holding that sign. And it’s true. That is why I marched. I am doing this for a new generation of strong women who deserve better than this.