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‘Motherhood should be a choice!’ Protesters host rally at the federal courthouse lawn on 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

‘Motherhood should be a choice!’ Protesters host rally at the federal courthouse lawn on 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Jules Vaquera from Mujeres Marcharan samples herself and performs an a capella song Jan. 22 during an abortion-rights rally at the United States Federal Courthouse. Photo by Tim Danger Ramos

When community activist Rockie Gonzalez climbed onto a rock and addressed the crowd that filled the lawn of the United States Federal Courthouse Jan. 22, demonstrators cheered and raised their picket signs. 

“I want to be really clear, Roe was never enough.” Gonzalez said, “Roe was the floor, absolutely not the ceiling,”

Gonzalez is the founder of the R.E.D. Moon project, a grassroots organization that seeks to “regain, expand and decriminalize abortion.” She stressed the economic barriers put in place by the government on women and minorities have always made it difficult to acquire resources, including abortion. 

Two abortion access supporters display their signs at the abortion rights rally and march Jan. 22, 2023, in front of the United States Federal Courthouse as protesters transition onto West Nueva Street to march. Photo by Tim Danger Ramos

“The system is not broken … it’s functioning exactly the way it was designed,” Gonzales said of the government system that allowed the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed the right to abortion, in June 2022. 

In protest of that decision, the Mujeres Marcharán Coalition organized a rally and march. The rally took place on what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The march would begin at the federal courthouse, travel along Santa Rosa, then end back at the courthouse. 

The rally included performances and speeches from activists and community members. Local activist Jules Vaquera performed an a capella style DJ mix for the crowd

Community members, activists, grassroot organizations and unions joined together in the rally for abortion rights and had a list of four demands:

  • Abolish the Filibuster. 
  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment. 
  • Stop Publicly Funding “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” 
  • Provide Abortion Access on Federal Lands and Facilities.

Sarah Johnson, media representative for the Mujeres Marcharán Coalition, said the main goal of the rally was to unify those opposed to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“Today, we’re trying to hold space for the anger, the rage, the confusion that people are experiencing because Roe v. Wade was overturned,” Johnson said, “Today, we’re trying to say: ‘We’re here. We are not going anywhere and we will not go anywhere until the law reflects the value of these people.’” 

The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for any health benefits coverage that includes abortions. The only exceptions are:

  • The pregnancy was a result of incest or rape.
  • The pregnancy causes a physical disorder, injury or illness including a life-threatening physical condition unless an abortion is performed, as certified by a physician.

Johnson criticized the Texas government, claiming it’s “not actually a democracy.” Johnson said 89% of Texans believe abortion should be accessible in one way or another and only 11% of Texans believe abortion should be completely banned, even in cases of rape or incest. 

The coalition also calls for the immediate end to the funding of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” Johnson said they pretend to be maternal care facilities that promise a provision of resources for a period of time but try to convince women to carry their pregnancy to term. These facilities are typically state funded and can be connected and run by church organizations. 

Jack M. Finger, a solo anti-abortion protester, smiles at a passing car on Jan. 22 while holding a sign with a photo of a supposedly aborted fetus named Malachi. Photo by Tim Danger Ramos

“These facilities are not enabling women to make choices for what they actually need in their body,” Johnson said, “They’re just trying to convince women to give forced birth.”

Jack M. Finger 70, the sole counterprotester, held a large sign with an image of what appeared to be an aborted fetus with the words “WHAT YOU WANT!”

Finger said he was not affiliated with any group, but he was there to remind the protestors that abortion is murder. He said the right to abortion is not a civil right. 

“I’m sorry that the almighty constructed women as to be the housing of a baby before it’s born, but that’s the case, and we should not be destroying that individual,” Finger said.

Jazmin Cazares, 17, and Faith Mata, 22, said they heard about the rally through the Autonomous Brown Berets’ Instagram page.

Cazares and Mata are sisters of Jackie Cazares and Tess Mata, who were killed in May 2022 during the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.

Cazares said it was frustrating when Roe v. Wade was overturned a month after the shooting. She said it felt like the government was placing more value on unborn fetuses than on “actual children that were running around, breathing, with loving parents.”

“It really shows where their priorities lie,” Cazares said. 

Mata said the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade only a month after the shooting in Uvalde felt like a “slap in the face.”

Kate Sanchez, a community advocacy manager for Planned Parenthood, told the crowd that she was “pissed” and “astounded” that women had fewer rights in 2023 than their parents did in 1973. 

Sanchez spoke to Texas’ high rate of child abuse in the foster care system; the state’s high levels of child hunger; and finally, the high mortality rate for those giving birth in the state. 

“Abortion saves lives,” Sanchez said. “Abortion gives life.”

About the Authors

Matthew Lopez
Sports Editor
Matthew Lopez is a junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio majoring in communications. Matthew received his associate degree along with his high school diploma in 2018. In his downtime he likes to go to the gym, watch sports and write poetry. He hopes to have a career in journalism where he can report on anything and everything — as long as he gets to continue writing, that is enough for him.
Xochilt Garcia
Assistant Editor
Xochilt Garcia is a sophomore at Texas A&M University-San Antonio majoring in communications. In her downtime Xochilt enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on and listening to music in all forms. Xochilt hopes to become a full-time reporter, traveling and bringing light to the stories that matter to the community.
Tim Danger Ramos
Photo Editor
Tim Danger Ramos is a communications junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He has been a passionate photographer for eight years and plans to become a photojournalist after graduating. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music and learning more about photography.

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