If you’re a woman who supports abortion rights, you’ve had that debate, usually but not always with men, and usually with men who have never and will never, ever, ever be a part of any decision you make when it comes to your body, your future, your life.
And still they persisted.
But for the past 48 years we’ve been able to shut down opponents’ arguments because we’ve had the constitutional right to make our own decisions about our own bodies based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
And yet here we are, with Roe slowly being snipped away, hanging by a cord and already all but gone in Texas.
So we speak up again. We debate when we must. And we march.
This Saturday, the Women’s March returns to mobilize and defend women’s reproductive rights in Washington, D.C., and in more than 600 sister marches across the country, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe and four other cities in New Mexico.
“We’re not going to go back in time,” said Samia Assed, chairwoman of New Mexico Women’s March and a member of the march’s national board. “There will always be abortions. That’s just a fact of life. Women will always find a way to have a choice. But that choice must allow for a safe and legal abortion, not an ugly back-alley one that could forever mutilate and maim the woman or possibly kill her.”
Or put a bounty on the heads of anyone who attempts to help her access an abortion as is now the case in Texas.
Saturday’s event, the fifth Women’s March since the largest single-day march in U.S. history in 2017, is being held well ahead of its typical January date, a decision announced Sept. 2, the day the new Texas anti-abortion law went into effect. The law, considered the most restrictive in the country, bans abortions after six weeks, when most women do not realize they are pregnant, and gives citizens the power to sue abortion providers and others.
The date was also chosen because it falls two days before the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court begins its October term. Among the cases expected to be heard is one out of Mississippi that threatens to cut the cord from which Roe is hanging. That one bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The October date is both unexpected and imperative and has required a lot of tireless work to make it all happen in a short period of time, Assed said.
“This was a surprise action,” she said. “It was over 90 organizations getting in a room together and coming together. Everybody understood the seriousness of the moment and the absolute need to come together, rise up and speak out against the peril our reproductive rights now face and the barbarism and vigilantism in Texas.”
Among the dozens of coalition members are Planned Parenthood, NARAL, National Organization for Women, Guttmacher Institute and the Lilith Fund.
In New Mexico, collaborating groups include the Indigenous Women Rising, Mariposa Fund and the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Because of the short notice, the Albuquerque march has been moved to Tiguex Park instead of the Civic Plaza, which was already spoken for by the Albuquerque Taco and Margarita Festival.
Participants are also encouraged to carpool as they will be competing for parking with tourists here for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Keeping abortion legal, by the way, is still supported by a majority of Americans, according to several national polls. Approval numbers range from 54% to 61%, with notable declines in approval after the first trimester (the first three months, not six weeks) and among evangelical Christians.
A Monmouth University poll this month found that 62% of Americans believe the Supreme Court should leave Roe v. Wade alone. The same poll also found that 70% disapprove of allowing private citizens to sue people involved in an abortion and 81% disapprove of those people receiving $10,000 for their efforts, both allowed under the new Texas law.
Organizers of the march say the stakes have never been higher.
“Everybody understands the risks,” Assed said. “Abortion is never an easy decision. It is painful and emotional, but it is a woman’s choice, not the government’s, not people who are anti-choice. As they say, if you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.”
The event is called the Women’s March, but men who love them and support their right to choose are always welcome, too.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.