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Student organizations rally at Women's March for abortion rights

Condemning recent abortion restrictions, activists in Phoenix and across the nation encouraged others to be educated about protecting reproductive rights

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Leaders of the march hold a banner reading “We are the ones we have been waiting for” outside the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Several ASU student organizations, including ASU Young Democrats, Planned Parenthood Generation Action at ASU, ASU Society of Women Engineers and Socialist Revolution at ASU, participated in the Women's March Phoenix on Saturday to protest for abortion access. 

Protesters gathered at the Arizona State Capitol to advocate for the expansion of abortion rights in Arizona and condemn recent abortion restrictions passed in Texas and Mississippi

Similar rallies organized by the Women's March, a women-led movement for intersectional education, occurred at state capitols nationwide Saturday.

After the speeches, activists led protesters in a march around the Capitol.

Abortion rights protesters and anti-abortion counter-protesters engaged in a brief shouting match after the march, with abortion rights protesters chanting "my body, my choice" in an attempt to drown out counter-protesters. 

The lead organizers drew abortion rights protesters away from the counter-protesters and abortion clinic safety organizers separated the two sides to prevent the conflict from escalating.

Women's March

ASU graduate Cristal Pina, an organizer for Socialist Revolution at ASU, said it was important for the group to get involved in the abortion debate because of recent abortion restrictions in Arizona. 

"We're kind of on a slippery slope right now, especially with everything happening in Texas and Texas is right next door to us," Pina said. "It was important for us to be here to show solidarity with the women, especially women being affected by the Texas laws right now."

On Sept. 28 a federal judge temporarily blocked Senate Bill 1457, an Arizona law passed in April banning abortions sought solely because of genetic abnormalities. SB 1457 was supposed to take effect on Sept. 29 and would have jailed doctors who performed abortions because of genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

READ MORE: ASU student organizations react to Texas abortion law

Melody Hernandez, a Democratic state representative for part of Tempe, condemned SB 1457 in a speech at the event. 

"Senate Bill 1457, this forced birth bill, was signed into law by Gov. (Doug) Ducey," Hernandez said. "It overall criminalizes the doctor-patient relationship and it establishes personhood, beginning at conception."

Aniyah Braveboy, an ASU graduate and external affairs associate for Planned Parenthood Arizona, also spoke at the rally and shared her experience with the organization that motivated her to become an activist.

"And though I was speechless and disgusted with myself, Planned Parenthood cared for me," Braveboy said. "Being raped, took my voice and power from me."

ASU Young Democrats' social chair Emma Galligan, a senior majoring in political science and justice studies, said it was especially important to get involved because of the push against increased abortion restrictions nationwide. 

"I'm scared," Galligan said. "Arizona could very well be the next state to have restrictions, and I know that would be something that really affects me as a woman."

Galligan said she hoped other ASU students get involved in the abortion debate and participate in events like the Women's March.

"We as a voting bloc of young people have so much power," Galligan said. "It's important that we get educated on these issues and that we find a way to support these issues." 

Paul Gosh, president of Socialist Revolution at ASU and a senior majoring in technical communication, said it was important for young people to be vocal at rallies like the Women's March.

"Access to contraception, abortion, etc. is incredibly important for college students," Gosh said. "They need the correct ideas and methods of fighting for those (rights) and as socialists, we believe that we have those (methods)."

Braveboy also called on protesters to support Planned Parenthood and continue to promote abortion access.

"This a critical moment for everyone to use their voice to defend reproductive justice," Braveboy said. "Everyone should have the right to parent or not in an environment that is safe for them and their children without the interference of the government or outside forces."

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Alexis WaissAssignment Editor, Senior Reporter

Alexis Waiss is an assignment editor and senior reporter, covering breaking news and writing long-form stories. Alexis worked on SP's politics desk for a year, where she reported on the Legislature, higher education policy, student government, the city of Tempe and stories highlighting social justice. She previously worked as a fellow for the Asian American Journalist Association's VOICES program. 

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