‘Abortion On Demand & Without Apology’: Abortion rights activists hold protest downtown

Claire Stevens, News Reporter

Activism group RiseUp4AbortionRights hosted a rally at downtown Austin’s Republic Square Park on Saturday to protest recent attacks on abortion rights in the U.S. and Texas, with other chapters of the group protesting nationally.

The protest came in response to Texas’s Senate Bill 8, a near-total ban on abortion that went into effect Sep. 2021, with a similar bill passing the Oklahoma legislature on Tuesday. The rally also occurred as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. The rally drew around 40 protestors and 10 counter protestors from Texas State Students for Life.

“(Roe v. Wade) will be (overturned) if people don’t fight, if we do not get in the streets and nonviolently, but with determination, say ‘No, we’re not going to let you take this right from women,’” said Coco Das, an organizer for RiseUp4AbortionRights.

The ban on abortion in Oklahoma, which permits abortions only if the mother’s life is in danger, will also impact access to abortion for Texans, said Kari White, principal investigator at UT’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

“Closing down the state where nearly half of Texans who got abortions have been getting care since (Senate Bill 8) has been in effect — plus displacing Oklahomans who will have to seek abortions elsewhere — will certainly disrupt care throughout the region,” said White in an email.

Raheena Ali, an international relations and global studies and sociology senior, said she got involved with RiseUp4AbortionRights when the group held a rally on campus in March. She said that she came to the protest because losing abortion rights is an issue that impacts everyone.

“We need bodies on the ground fighting for this cause because otherwise people don’t listen to us,” Ali said. “People won’t understand how important and how impenetrable the force of women is.”

At the rally, protestors held “Abortion On Demand & Without Apology” banners and wore green bandanas. The color green is a symbol adopted from reproductive rights movements in Latin American countries like Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, where victories for abortion rights have been won in recent years, according to Das.

“Countries in Latin America are going forward with abortion rights,” Das said. “We’re going backwards here. To prevent that we have to take up this green wave here.”