Georgetown University students rallied for reproductive rights during the fifth Women’s March last Saturday.
The 2021 Women’s March advocated for reproductive rights after legislators passed a new abortion law in Texas, which made abortions after six weeks of pregnancy illegal. Protestors participated in the Women’s March on Oct. 2 in all 50 states, garnering 70,000 participants, 10,000 of which marched in Washington, D.C.
H*yas for Choice (HFC), a pro-abortion rights student group, held an event to make signs for the march and organized a group of students to attend the march together. 134 students signed up to attend the Women’s March with HFC, according to Lauryn Ping (COL ’23), organizing director for HFC.
“There’s a lot going on around abortion right now, and reproductive rights and justice are really in jeopardy, so I think there’s a lot of student concern around abortion rights and abortion justice,” Ping said. “I’m really encouraged by the turnout.”
For students like Soraya Bata (SFS ’24), who is from Florida, attending the Women’s March was an opportunity to become involved in a large-scale event in Washington, D.C.
“I had always really wanted to participate in some form of activism, especially for feminist causes, but I haven’t really had the opportunity,” Bata said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “When I heard that there was going to be a Women’s March specifically for reproductive justice, I knew that I had to attend and be part of that movement.”
The first Women’s March took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017 with participants rallying to protect reproductive rights. The event took place during a time of high popularity for the #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke in 2006 to advocate for justice for survivors of sexual violence.
Nadia Sandanandan (NHS ’24) was motivated to attend the Women’s March after learning about the new Texas abortion law.
“I actually went to the Women’s March in 2017 after Trump got elected,” Sandanandan said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “I wanted to go to this one was because after the Texas law, I was very frustrated.”
The event began with the “Rally for Abortion Justice” at Freedom Plaza, where protestors gathered to listen to speeches from prominent activists, including Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, and Marsha Jones, executive director of the Afiya Center, a Texas-based abortion rights organization.
According to Bata, the speakers delivered empowering, inspiring speeches to the crowd in Freedom Plaza.
“I think that the diversity of the participants in the event was what inspired me most because I noticed that there were people of all ages, all genders and all races participating and marching,” Bata said. “I had anticipated that to a certain extent, but I just didn’t realize the gravity of how diverse the movement really was.”
After the “Rally for Abortion Justice,” protestors formed a large crowd that marched toward the steps of the Supreme Court, according to Bata.
“As we were walking toward the Supreme Court and toward Capitol Hill, we turned around and saw the crowd behind us, and it just didn’t end,” Bata said. “As far as we could see, the road was completely packed with activists, and that made us really emotional because we felt like we were part of a really strong community there.”
While the march was a positive experience, Sadanandan said the event also evoked feelings of discouragement after years of protesting for reproductive rights.
“I definitely think it made me feel more hopeful, but it’s also frustrating that we keep having to fight for the same things for a really long time,” Sadanandan said.
Ping said the participants at the Women’s March conveyed a message to representatives across the country that reproductive justice is a right that should be protected.
“It’s a really awesome opportunity to come together in solidarity around reproductive justice,” Ping said. “It’s also a way to tell our representatives in Congress and the president that reproductive justice is something that students and the general American population wants and is super important.”