This past weekend, October 2, 2021, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in cities all across the country to march for women’s rights, more specifically women’s reproductive rights. I was one of them.
In case you weren’t aware, on September 1st a new “heartbeat bill” went into effect in Texas. This new law makes it illegal for a woman to have an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A number that has been being thrown around a lot is 6 weeks, that’s on average when a “heartbeat” can be detected. I use quotation marks because what is being classified as a heartbeat is not actually a heartbeat, as no heart has actually formed at that point. Despite precedents set by Roe Vs Wade and Planned Parenthood Vs Casey, Texas was able to pass this law and the Supreme Court did nothing.
I am not in any way medically educated nor am I legally educated and I’m still learning more about this bill and everything it stands for and could lead to, but rather than me trying to break that all down for you, I’d rather share two videos I found rather helpful in understanding what this all means and how it happened. The first video was made by an OBGYN and the other is by a lawyer. Both videos are kind of lengthy, but they are filled with some real information. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, both videos try to walk the line of not taking a stand on whether abortion is right or wrong and simply outline the effects of this ban and how the ban actually came to be. (Take some time, educate yourself if you’d like, and then I’ll get on with my experience.)
When I first learned this bill was not only passed but was allowed to go into full effect, I was upset and sick and angry.
Both my parents were born in the 50s and came of age in the 60s. My mom, her friends, her generation fought for women’s reproductive rights so my generation, all the generations to come, wouldn’t have to. And that’s all I could think when I learned that this bill had gone into effect, “We still have to fight this shit?”
Roe Vs Wade is the Supreme Court decision everyone knows and references whenever women’s reproductive rights come under fire. Roe Vs Wade didn’t allow women to start having abortions, it allowed women to have safe abortions. What people don’t seem to realize is that these laws, these bans; they don’t stop abortions, they just put the women who get abortions at risk.
Roe Vs Wade passed in 1973, but prior to that abortions were not uncommon. Because illegal abortions often go unreported numbers are inconsistent, but it is estimated that in the 1950s and 1960s alone, anywhere from 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed every year. In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for approximately 2,700 women or nearly 1/5 of all maternal deaths that year. By 1965, thanks probably in part to the introduction of effective antibiotics to treat infections, death due to illegal abortions dropped to just under 200, but still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth.
I’ll say it again, just because abortions are illegal, that doesn’t mean abortions will stop, it just means women will die.
I’m not a person that normally voices their opinions, especially nothing too controversial. Yes, on here I talk a lot about climate change and sustainability, but that’s about as far as my “controversial” public views go. I spend way too much time thinking about what others think (Although I am actively trying to change that.) But, when I heard about this law passing I immediately felt like I needed to do something.
I think it was probably the same day that this law hit the news, that word about the Women’s March started circulating online. “October 2, rally for abortion justice!”
October 2, that just happened to be a weekend I had already requested off from work for a camping trip the husband and I had planned for Joshua Tree. I’m a little ashamed to admit, but despite the perfect timing I didn’t immediately say, “no camping, I’m going to the march.”
We’d been planning this trip for almost a year and I was really looking forward to getting out in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service and no distractions. I’ve been working a lot and haven’t been able to get out much or do almost any hiking. But I also felt like it was time I start speaking up and getting involved.
After a few long talks with the husband, I finally had the courage to give up my camping trip and get involved. As my husband put it, “Joshua Tree isn’t going anywhere, your rights might be.”
As I said, I’ve never been very public about my opinions, especially controversial ones and I’ve never been to any sort of demonstration, march, protest, or rally. Mix that in with the fact that I’m kind of an introvert, struggle with anxiety, constantly worry about what others think, and top it off with nearly two years of a pandemic that has kept me out of all larger groups, and you have a very scared Alex leading up to the Women’s March.
This past Saturday, October 2, 2021, hundreds of thousands of women rallied together and marched for women’s reproductive rights. There were over 600 marches held across the country and I attended Downtown LA’s event. The exact numbers haven’t been reported, but it was estimated that approximately 20,000 women were going to participate in the Downtown LA event.
I attended the march, with my husband, my best friend, her two daughters, and her mom. We marched from Pershing Square to City Hall with thousands of other women in support of women’s reproductive rights. Although, my husband said I looked like “a deer in the headlights” for most of the morning, (please see two paragraphs prior), It was one of the most exciting, empowering things I have done and I am so happy I decided to participate.
After marching to City Hall we were able to listen to several speakers including Paxton Smith, the Texas student whose valedictorian speech went viral for speaking in opposition to Texas’ abortion law, and attorney Gloria Allred.
This was my first march, and although I don’t wish for things to continue going downhill, I now feel more prepared to continue to stand up, speak up, and show up.
All photos by Gerardo Hurtado