On Oct. 2, women and allies across San Diego County marched to support women’s reproductive rights. The protest was called in response to Texas’s Heartbeat bill and in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision that may overturn Roe v. Wade. PLNU’s chapter of Students for Life participated, adding their voices to the conversation.
Nora Vargas was a speaker at the march. In January she became the first woman of color to take a seat on the San Diego Board of Supervisors. Vargas is a politician that fights for reproductive rights. Another speaker was Darrah Johnson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest. Johnson called for unity against Texas’s, “heinous and draconian law,” which “bans abortion for the people of Texas.”
Senate woman, Toni Atkins, was next to speak. She recalled her lifelong battle to make abortion accessible. Atkins recalled enduring Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion movement in the 80s that used sit-in demonstrations to prevent patients from entering clinics. Atkins then described her work at a clinic where she helped “women from Mexico and other states” find safe and legal treatment. Her goal is for California to be a place where women can come, “and know they’re going to get a service.” She described the politics surrounding abortion as a fight and advised the crowd “don’t f— with this senator.” She ended with a chant: “Fight! Fight! Fight! Yes!”
The crowd received these speakers well. They cheered when Beyoncé’s “Run the World” played, signaling the beginning of the march. Leading the protest was a group wearing pink balaclavas. Signs read with slogans such as: “Ejaculation is manslaughter,” “Pro-vasectomy” and “A teenager can’t adopt a child but they’ll force birth on her.”
A woman in attendance, Lori, said her desire to defend women’s rights inspired her to come.
“I need to stand for what matters…if you don’t get out there everyone’s going to do what they want,” she said.
Leading the rear, behind countless painted uteruses and dozens of straining necks, marched a row of pro-life students. One of the leaders of this group was PLNU student Sarah Barns.
Barns opened with the phrase, “A lot of these people think abortions help women.” It took five seconds for a member of the march to interject:
“You think women want to have abortions?”
The conversation lasted about two minutes as the activist explained abortion is a last resort and is not a procedure women enjoy. Nearby there was a table advertising a petition. Barns and the passerby continued marching, but many people stopped to scan a QR code advertised by an attendant.
Crystal was a woman who scanned the QR code. Her reason for marching was because her daughter was drugged and assaulted by three men. Her objections with the Heartbeat act was, “If she was in Texas she would’ve been forced to have a child.”
The petition was for the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) which posits: “Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the… United States”. The proposed legislation is aimed at removing barriers to abortion such as: “mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds” .
When asked what she scanned Crystal said, “I have no idea”.
During the demonstration, the Student’s for Life group received many comments. One woman shouted “f—ing pathetic.” When asked why she felt this way she said, “One issue: People are destroying this country.”
Miria Rubin walked with the Students for Life singing, “Get your rosaries off my ovaries.” It was a chant she learned during the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C. In referencing the PLNU students Rubin smiled and said:
“I see some of them, and they’re kids! What do they know about life? I was 35 when I had my first kid and I was still barely ready. If someone forces you to be a parent and you’re 18, you’re not going to like it.”Standing beside Barns was Lily North and Mary-Logan Miske, officers of San Diego State University and the University of San Diego’s Students for Life clubs. They said they wanted to show “women can be pro-life” especially at a march that has become largely, “pro-abortion.”
By: Jakob Vucelic-Frick