Protestors march in D.C. holding signs. Photo Courtesy of JOSHUA ROBERTS/GETTY IMAGES
Hailing from California to Washington, D.C., thousands of protestors marched on Saturday in support of abortion rights. With the Women’s March starting at 11 a.m. at Freedom’s Plaza, a crowd of young and old, black and white, and male and female protesters waited in anticipation for messages of hope from various speakers.
The crowds, in unison, wore lavender as an homage to the suffragettes. Organizers provided themed posters, buttons, bandanas, and masks to encourage unity upon entrance.
Egyptian American Youssra Khali described the impact of COVID-19 on the Women’s March and emphasized her attendance despite the fear of COVID-19 to make clear her commitment to help and represent Egyptian women.
“For us being oppressed, often they don’t question what’s happening when it comes to laws,” Khali said. “It’s time to let us live our true lives without having us live in a box. They have more regulations and rights for covid more than us women,” she continued.
While enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing, the Women’s March hosted 650 sister marches nationwide to encourage the protest of civil liberties in other states and to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Many women’s rights activist have been alarmed by a recent abortion law passed in Texas. This law prohibits women to have any termination procedure despite age, income and severity of the circumstance as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
“I personally believe that women are the backbone of this entire world, nation, country. Women should have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies,” protestor Edward Green said.
“To other men who are hesitant of supporting women or being viewed a certain way by their colleagues for doing so they should have a reality check. I’m sure we all have daughters, we all have wives, we all have moms, we all have grandmothers. Have self-reflection and get out there” Green said.
Actor, activist and event host Cristela Alonzo, a first-generation American raised in San Juan, Texas, emphasized the importance of gaining one’s voice through her late mother’s own experience.
“My mother realized her voice was powerful, and she was free to make her own choice,” Alonzo said.
With the crowds of various cultures, backgrounds, and occupations, the rally displayed different views and messages on reproductive rights and how they affect different kinds of people.
The speaker line-up emphasized the movement’s core value of variety and inclusivity. Speakers included Indigenous speakers and singers, Black gynecologists, transgender athletes, progressive reverends, Latina politicians and even teenagers who all displayed the impact of reproductive rights on their everyday lives.
Austin, Texas teen Anna Li delivered a speech on her run-in with Texas’ abortion laws. The state denied her request to take preventative measures such as birth control and plan B because she was under 18.
Weeks later, “the two little lines stared right back at me,” Li said.
Li had to prove she was a good citizen of her community to a judge to have the approval for an abortion.
In addition to Li, many teens and college students arrived at the protest in support of reproductive health. Howard University students Alexandria Ellis and Lauren Robinson explained their attendance at the rally.
“As a woman, but also as a Black woman that has a reproductive illness, and residing near the capital, it would be irresponsible of me not to be here, especially knowing the issue of Black maternal mortality and how abortion really saves the lives of Black women every day. It would be reckless and irresponsible to not come out like the people before me did,” Ellis said.
“Abortion doesn’t happen cause you want to. It happens cause you need to,” Robinson said.
As the rally and protests continued, thousands marched down the streets of D.C. to the Supreme Court, chanting messages of hope and individuality for the regulation of women’s reproductive rights.