On Saturday, Oct. 2, New Mexico affiliates of the Women's March organization held a rally and march for reproductive justice in Tiguex Park. This was part of a wave of marches hosted by the Women's March across the nation to protest the restrictive abortion bill that went into effect in Texas in August.
The Women’s March has been hosting marches every January since former President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, this year's march was held several months early because of recent legislation in Texas concerning Senate Bill 8, which places a ban on abortions after six weeks and allows citizens to sue those who have an illegal abortion and those affiliated with the abortion.
Many different organizations were present at the march, including New Mexico Youth Empower who had a leadership team helping facilitate the event. University of New Mexico student and team member Emily Minh Phan said she hopes everyone who participated in the march continues their advocacy work afterward.
“Although (attending the march) does help, if you’re willing to come out to a march, and you're willing to go through finding parking, then I think making a phone call (to an elected official) from your house should be just as easy and just as important to you,” Phan said.
Another student and member of the New Mexico Youth Empower team, Citlali Alexandra
Tierney, said there are more ways to be an activist than just acting on performative measures.
“You stop being a performative activist the second that you correct somebody,” Tierney said. “If you have a racist or sexist family member who doesn't get why people need abortions or healthcare access, figure out how to educate them, because educating one person is more of a change than educating nobody.”
Franklin Gauna, a transgender activist, said it’s essential for transgender and nonbinary people to speak out on issues of reproductive justice because all groups suffer from these rights being taken away.
“I believe that it's important for the transgender community to have a voice and be heard … I believe that it's important for men to back women in their fight for rights, for equality, and reproductive justice and fairness,” Gauna said.
Individuals of all ages were present at the march, including many older activists who spoke about how this fight has been a continuous battle throughout their lives. Cyn Palmer, who has been an activist since they were young, said they’ve faced an intense amount of backlash for their advocacy work but still, years later, their passion for reproductive rights advocacy has not dwindled.
“My ability to use my voice and my desire to use my voice and to be present at events like this one hasn't changed at all,” Palmer said. “So none of that (backlash) swayed me — nor will it ever — because I feel so strongly about this issue.”
Also present at the march was Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, who was attending in solidarity with the reproductive rights movement and those affected by the Texas abortion ban. Keller said that because the city doesn’t have a department of health, they don’t have legal footing over the issue but that he still wants the city to help protect individuals seeking abortion and support the medical field.
“It's something that I've always believed in: reproductive rights for women,” Keller said. “And so for me as mayor but also as a man, I think it's just about solidarity. It's not about me; it's just about me being here with the folks who care about the issue.”
Another activist, Barabra Jordan, captured the auidence’s attention when she shared an emotional and personal story of when she had to have an abortion while overseas for the U.S. Air Force, emphasizing how abortions are essential in healthcare. She concluded with a call to action to all present, telling them to go home and do more after the march.
“We are all activists. We are all leaders. Write those letters to your editors. We need to write the letters to Gov. (Greg) Abbot. I’m not going to say ‘fuck Texas.’ I’m going to say ‘fuck Gov. Abbot,’” Jordan said. “Write the letters to Gov. Abbott. Write the letters to the state of Texas. Write letters to our president. They work for us.”
Madeline Pukite is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @madelinepukite
Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo