DC marches against Texas’s abortion law

Kavita O’Malley

Along with thousands of other Americans, I attended the “Rally for Abortion Justice” in Washington, DC on October 2. The crowd, which initially gathered in Freedom Plaza, was buzzing with energy and the slogan “Bans off our Bodies” was everywhere. 

The 600 plus rallies that took place across the US that day were organized in partnership with Sister Song, Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, Arc Southeast, Women’s March, Mississippi in Action, Shero Mississippi, the Texas-based Trust Respect Access Coalition and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) along with their regional affiliates.

These groups, all focused on reproductive rights activism, first started coordinating the event in May and June of 2021, when the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 8 (S.B.8.) and the Supreme Court indicated they would hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 

“We sensed that bad times were coming for abortion access,” Planned Parenthood’s National Organizing Director, Brianna Twofoot, said. The groups first organized a day of solidarity with Texas on September 1, but when the Supreme Court denied blocking the ban, the group decided to expand their focus to encompass the whole country. Already, many states across the US had indicated moves to potentially copy Texas’s abortion law. From this came the the October 2 “Rallies for Abortion Justice.”

In DC alone, the massive crowd grew to the thousands. Junior Sarah Panetta, co-President of District Girl Up, a club dedicated to learning about the issues women and girls face, attended the march along with other members from the group. “So many people of different ages and genders came out to support the right to abortions, which suprised me,” she commented. “It was very informative and powerful; I got goosebumps.” 

The list of speakers at the march was diverse, from PPFA president Alexis McGill Johnson, to D1 trans swimmer Schuyler Baliar, to members of Indigenous tribes native to the DC area. The wide range of ages, genders, sexualities, and races showed how widespread and fundamental the issue of reproductive rights is. 

When the speakers finished, the crowd trickled out onto Pennsylvania Avenue to start the march towards the Supreme Court. It was hot and the crowd moved slowly, but the energy and sheer amount of people was striking. 

When the crowd finally reached the Supreme Court, the energy spiked at the sight of the anti-abortion protestors on the side of the road. In response to their chant of “abortion is murder,” the massive group of marchers chanted back “abortion is healthcare” to drown out the counter-protesters. When asked about her feelings on the march, Twofoot admitted to having been nervous going into the day, stating that she “felt the same dread as anyone with a uterus living in a country where the government is making these decisions.” She also pointed out that her fear had been enhanced by having seen law enforcement’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. But Twofoot, like many others, “felt incredibly empowered and emboldened at the end of the day.” •