Hundreds of people protest in A2 for post-abortion reproductive rights in Texas
In 1972, Michigan-based Amy Nowland flew to New York, which at the time had the most permissive reproductive health laws for women in the country, to undergo an abortion. Nowland received the case a year before the US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 decision declaring that the constitution allows all women the freedom to have an abortion.
Speaking to a crowd on Saturday at a March women’s protest, Nowland recalled her mother’s disapproval and said she wouldn’t fly to New York with Nowland, sending a friend with her instead. When she returned to Michigan after the procedure, Nowland said her mother refused to speak to her about the experience.
“I haven’t regretted the abortion,” Nowland said. “I grieved the little 17 year old who had to do it alone.”
Nowland was one of hundreds who gathered outside the federal building in Ann Arbor to protest for the protection of women’s reproductive rights.
The Ann Arbor protest was one of over 600 women’s marches across the country on Saturday. These protests are in response to the passage in September of the Texas Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, which banned almost all abortions in the state. The law prohibits all abortions that involve cardiac activity, which typically occurs after six weeks of fetal development.
Last month the Justice Department sued Texas over the law on the grounds that it intended to violate the Constitution. A federal judge heard from attorneys representing the state of Texas and the Department of Justice on Friday and discussed whether or not to suspend the ban while the courts determine its legality.
Last month, shortly after it came into force, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 not to block the law.
The Supreme Court begins a new term on Monday. The women’s march was part of a national call by some to defend women’s reproductive rights before the new session of the court begins.
Several speakers – including U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Lori Carpentier, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, and Rackham student Leanna Papp – took the stage to present motivational messages and their own personal narratives.
Corky Wa, host of the Ann Arbor protest, began the march by highlighting the importance of intersectional identities for women’s reproductive rights.
“At our rally today we stand with our black, Latinx, queer and indigenous families, who are disproportionately represented,” said Wa.
Research has confirmed that abortion rates are higher among women of color with lower incomes and less education due to systemic inequalities in access to health care, living and working conditions, and racial discrimination. Studies show that these social circumstances are responsible for more negative health outcomes in general among people of color and people of low socioeconomic status.
The march promoted a general message of inclusivity, and Wa emphasized the importance of male allies on the road to reproductive equality. Wa also stressed how accessibility to reproductive health care can vary across the population and encouraged protesters to work for greater justice.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that every woman, regardless of income, whoever you are, has access to comprehensive, accessible health care,” Wa said.
Carpentier said she felt it was particularly important to improve access to abortion and other reproductive interventions for those with a lower socio-economic status.
“The people we should have first are the people who will violate this law the most,” said Carpentier. “People with lower incomes, black and brown women, people who have been marginalized.”
LSA Senior Charanya Rengarajan, a member of the women’s right to health organization, participated in the protest with the organization. Rengarajan said she came to stand up for what she believes in and support women’s reproductive rights.
“We are all very passionate about reproductive equality for women and take all of these issues from an intersectional feminist perspective, and that is what brought us here,” said Rengarajan.
The US MP Haley Stevens, D-Mich., Was also present at the rally. Stevens told the crowd that she felt it was vital to promote voting for women’s reproductive rights and stressed the political importance of southeast Michigan.
“I’m holding this voting card,” said Stevens. “It’s about the size of a driver’s license. And yet it is difficult with the weight of expectations and we cannot stop. “
The day worker Liz Hwang can be reached at [email protected]