Cries and chants calling for legally protected abortion rights erupted in downtown San Antonio at the “Bans Off Our Bodies: Day Of Action” march and subsequent rally in front of the federal courthouse on June 24.
The event, which was organized by the Mujeres Marcharán Coalition and other local abortion-rights activists, took place just hours after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case with a 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.
The Autonomous Brown Berets De San Anto, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Planned Parenthood were among other organizers.
The Mujeres Marcharán Coalition, Spanish for “women will march,” also plans the annual San Antonio march for International Women’s Day. Rachell Tucker, an organizer with Mujeres Marcharán, told the San Antonio Express-News the coalition consists of representatives from about 15 groups.
“The goal is exactly what we’re seeing,” Tucker said during the rally. “People getting organized and coming together to stand up for our rights.”
As part of that goal, representatives from the Party For Socialism and Liberation were present with information about the group and how people can get involved. Throughout the evening, coordinators of the event encouraged attendees to stop by their tables and sign up.
Jules Vaquera, another Mujeres Marcharán organizer, spoke at the rally and shared the story of the abortion she had when she was a teenager.
“It was the best possible thing for me,” Vaquera said. “I was 17, I had no support system, no job, and I could not have supported and raised a child.”
Vaquera said the Supreme Court’s decision will most impact poor people and people of color.
“Abortion was already illegal in Texas, effectively,” Vaquera said after her speech. “Anyone with a uterus will have to travel, and the people of color and the poor people who can’t do that will suffer the most.”
Rally-goer Gavin Garcia, 21, wanted anti-abortion protestors to realize a lack of abortion access affects everyone with a uterus, including those who don’t identify as women.
“I’ve had an abortion, and I’m a trans man,” Garcia said. “[Anti-abortion protestors] don’t understand that all walks of life go through this, not just women, and these are the same people who wouldn’t be very happy if I, a man, was having a baby.”
Garcia said he became pregnant while taking testosterone as part of his transition and wished more people were willing to accept the complexity of the issue for marginalized individuals.
A sentiment echoed throughout the night was that abortion access is not just a women’s issue, but also concerns LGBTQIA+ rights, economic and racial justice, and religious freedom — with many pointing to the precedent-setting cases Justice Clarence Thomas called to be re-evaluated.
In his solo concurring opinion, Justice Thomas explicitly mentions Griswold v. Connecticut (the case granting married people the right to access contraceptives), Lawrence v. Texas (the right to privately engage in sexual acts), and Obergefell v. Hodges (the right to same-sex marriage) as precedents to “reconsider” in future cases.
Lea Hartman, 18, will be a criminal justice freshman at Texas A&M University-San Antonio in the fall. At the rally, Hartman held a sign that read “blood is on your hands” with the faces of the six justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade — Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito Jr., Amy Coney Barret, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
“This is going to lead to a lot of deaths,” Hartman said. “It does not stop abortion, it stops safe abortion.”
There is evidence to back such claims. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization focused on reproductive health and rights, it is estimated that 829,000 “illegal or self-induced abortions” took place in 1967 alone, six years before Roe v. Wade was decided.
Many experience hemorrhaging, uterine perforation and infections (such as sepsis) as a result of illegal or unsafe abortions. They also cause up to 13.2% of maternal deaths each year according to the World Health Organization.
However, the reproductive health landscape is different now than it was 50 years ago — with options such as at-home abortion pills, stronger antibiotics to fight infections and advances in medical care to limit the death toll from unsafe abortions. Nonetheless, pre-Roe v. Wade America proved to be a dangerous environment for those seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
“You are going to be killing women who are out of the womb and have their life ahead of them,” Hartman said.
Also in attendance was Susan Korbel, Democratic candidate for Bexar County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
“If you don’t get to choose how you’re going to live your life, how are you seen as an equal citizen?” Korbel said.
Korbel said she was shocked by the “irony” of the Supreme Court granting states the right to make abortion laws when, the day before, it held that states do not have the right to make gun laws superseding the Second Amendment in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen.
“It’s so hard for so many people to feel like they have no power,” Korbel said. “Until November, all we have is the streets.”
Story edited on June 28 at 10:45 a.m. to correct transcription of Lea Hartman’s protest sign.