Michelle was six weeks pregnant when she said, “My body, my choice!” sang. A crowd of thousands gathered in downtown Washington over the weekend to condemn abortion restrictions looming across the country. Michelle is from Austin, and of all the abortion restrictions in the United States, her home state has the strictest – Senate Law 8, which bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.
“I’m pregnant right now and I’m so happy that I could make this choice, but I want to be here because it’s a personal choice,” Michelle told the American statesman at the Washington March. “I get emotional just thinking about it, but the thought that I might have been forced to do so is hideous.”
Michelle asked not to use her last name to protect her privacy.
More: Thousands gather at the Texas Capitol to protest the ban on abortion and demand the protection of women’s rights
On Saturday, there were reproductive rights marches across the country organized by the Women’s March. In Austin, thousands flocked to the Capitol to gather and hear from speakers such as Wendy Davis, the former Texas Senator who was known to hold a 13-hour filibuster in 2013 to block the passage of the abortion-restricting SB 5.
In Washington, the crowd heard from Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, and Marsha Jones, executive director of the Texas-based abortion rights group Afiya Center, among others.
“No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark – it’s dark – but that’s why we’re here,” Johnson told the crowd.
Four days after the demonstrations, a federal judge in Austin temporarily blocked Texan’s abortion law on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether and how soon vendors will offer the procedure again.
At the rally in Washington, activists and organizers stressed the harshness of the Texas ban and warned that the Conservative majority in the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade, who made abortion a constitutional right half a century ago, could soon overthrow. This opportunity prompted Melissa Chapman and Ben Leffler to fly from their Austin home to Washington to take part in the march.
“If we were in Austin, we would be in Austin for the march,” said Leffler. “SB 8 does not represent the views of all Texans. It’s a radical Republican matter passed by the Legislature that is rigged and does not represent Texas. “
Recent polls show Americans are roughly 2 to 1 ahead of overthrowing Roe. However, according to a recent survey by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, nearly half of all Texans are in favor of making abortions illegal.
Velia Smith, a 79-year-old who lives in Ingleside, near Corpus Christi, attended the march with her daughter and two granddaughters. She planned the trip for her family so they could “see what it takes to pass a law.”
13-year-old Ariana Buescher, one of Smith’s granddaughters, said she was attending the march for any young girl who may need access to abortion.
“It’s important that girls have this right so they can have an abortion anytime they need one because I’m sure a lot of people don’t want a child when they are 15 or 13,” said Ariana. “I’m 13 and I obviously wouldn’t want a child right now.”
Read: Federal judge is considering motion to block Texas abortion law
Ariana’s 17-year-old sister Makayla is a student at Texas Tech. All of the girls in her sorority are in favor of the right to abortion, she said, but all of them have at least one parent who opposes it.
“At least for people my age, that’s what really softens your voice,” said Makayla. “I’m fortunate enough to come from a politically divided household, so I had to make my own decisions. I have a great grandma and mom who made me decide: ‘Hey, I want to be here today.’ But I think a lot of people don’t have that. “
Not far from Makayla and her family, a group of college-aged girls proudly displayed colorful posters with cheeky slogans such as “A woman’s place is in your face” and “Unless you’re Stanley Tucci, hands off mine Coochie! ” One of them had done a zine on reproductive rights that she was handing out to the crowd.
Two of these girls, Lily Kincannon and Natalie Salazar, were from Texas. You are currently attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and doing a semester in DC
“A woman’s right to vote is vital,” said Kincannon, a 22-year-old from Austin. “I think this is about abortion because we did it about abortion, but it symbolizes something so much bigger than that – a woman’s right to choose.”
“As a Latina and Texan, it breaks my heart to see that women are unable to control our own bodies,” said Salazar, 20 years old and from Houston. “Not being able to help him is what brought me here today. I want to make that difference. I want to be the person who helps catalyze change. “
The future of access to abortion in the US could be decided soon. On December 1, the Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of a Mississippi bill banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation. If the law is allowed to stand, Roe can be overturned.
More: Will Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion repealed? What would that mean for Texas?