‘We are regressing’: Students join protests following overturn of Roe v. Wade

Claire Stevens and Hope Unger

When Rachel Marquez heard that Roe v. Wade had been overturned on Friday, she cried. 

“It was just surreal to me that women have fewer rights over the control of their own body than guns right now,” oboe performance junior Marquez said. 

Pro-abortion protests took place all over the U.S. this weekend following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday that reversed Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that protected people’s constitutional right to abortions. Thousands of Austinites, who were previously subject to a Texas law that banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, took to the streets to protest the decision and demand the state overturn its now complete ban on abortions.

“Without this fundamental right to abortion, women cannot be free,” said Coco Das, an organizer for Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. “The highest court in the most powerful country in the world has ruled that the states can force girls, women and anyone with (a uterus) to bear children against their will.” 

Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights organized the protests in downtown Austin this weekend. On Friday, protesters marched from Republic Square to the Texas State Capitol chanting, “My body, my choice” and, “Fuck the courts and the legislature, I am not an incubator.” On Saturday, protesters gathered in front of the Capitol with signs and posters. They also carried pots, pans and metal spoons, using them to make as much noise as possible as they marched through downtown.

“Those who are behind this assault on our bodies and our rights are counting on our obedience,” Das said. “They are counting on our silence.”

Marquez attended Friday’s protest and said banning abortion will disproportionately affect women of color who already suffer from a lack of access to healthcare.

“It’s just bullshit that they’re focusing on abortion when the lives of people that are alive today are not even being protected,” Marquez said. 

Carina Martinez, a sociology and sustainability studies senior who spoke at Friday’s protest against the ruling and attended Saturday’s, said she hopes she will never need an abortion but does not want to live in fear being denied one if needed.

“I’m angry that we have allowed it to get this far, not only the legislators but also the general public who chose not to get involved until we got to this fucking point,” she said. “We are regressing into a dystopian reality.”

Emma Wake, an intern for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, attended Friday’s protest and said regaining the right to abortions is a cause that can’t lose momentum. Wake said increasing abortion access is not a sprint, but a marathon. 

“Something major happens and we all get upset about it … and then as soon as something’s changed, or we move on, you forget about it,” government junior Wake said. “This can’t happen. This time we need to organize. We need to vote.”

For others, the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a victory they’d been working toward for years. Earlier on Saturday, a group of approximately 20 people from various pro-life organizations gathered in front of the Capitol to celebrate the decision. 

Sarah Zarr, the Texas regional manager for Students for Life of America, said she was excited to be part of a “post-Roe” generation where abortion can be banned.

“Now we can protect human life … and get those resources out to women,” Zarr said. “We can, as a country, start leading with solutions for things like women’s health care and what to do in unplanned pregnancies.”

Das said protesters will continue to show up and will not wait until November to vote. She said they will continue to go out and make themselves heard.

“There is no going back to normal,” Das said. “How can you go back to normal when this kind of violence, this kind of terror, is being heaped upon half of humanity?”