*I wanted to add a brief content warning for those sensitive to reproductive health triggers and miscarriages as they are mentioned later in the post.*
Last weekend I traveled to Washington, D.C. with Blake and my best girlies for the third annual Women’s March. Amidst the longest ever government shutdown, my Mema’s only concern was that the streets would be dirty because no one was working to pick up the trash. But that was obviously the least of my worries.
Aside from the weather that was quite dreary the entire weekend, the trip was great. We drove up Friday night and stayed at an Airbnb in Lanham, Maryland, just a 30 minute metro ride from downtown. Saturday morning the five of us got up bright and early, made our way to the station, and embarked on our journey for the day. The minute we stepped out of the station at the National Mall, we were met with people selling buttons and t-shirts, so naturally, I bought one of each. The crowds all gathered at the Freedom Plaza, though we were initially set to march on the National Mall, itself. Due to the government shutdown, protest organizers moved the route of the march to a small triangle around the few blocks surrounding Freedom Plaza, limiting the impact of a march of this size. Something tells me someone never intended on letting the march proceed through the National Mall this year. Nevertheless, we got some coffee, made our way into the procession, and counted down for the march to take off.
As soon as we took off, the chanting began, and the ~female-artist-only~ music playing over the speakers became quieter in the distance. It felt incredible to be surrounded by so many other women and allies of all races, nationalities, and orientations coming together for our common goal. Knowing that there were women older than my own grandmother in attendance strolling alongside us in their wheelchairs, as well as children so young that they were still bound to strollers, resonated a feeling of hope among the crowd. It was so moving to be a part of something so much bigger than each individual, while knowing that we were all affected in our own ways at the individual level. There were representatives from many other social justice groups that came to march with people like my friends and I, just a few girls (and a boy) trying to make a difference.
I am publishing this post exactly a week later for a few reasons. One being that I have just now had enough time in my week to work on my photos (lol). But more importantly, since I was unable to post the day of while we were in D.C., I felt it would have a more profound meaning being on the same day that many women’s marches across North Carolina are taking place. With marches happening in Raleigh and Charlotte, even those who were unable to attend the march in D.C. will now have had a chance to experience the same feelings of revolution and social change that filled my spirit during last weekend’s march. Furthermore, a new development in women’s rights has taken place just this week that highlights some of the work being done in the field and just how far we’ve come.
In an effort to protect the unfortunate possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned in the near future under the current administration, New York passed a bill that amended the preexisting Public Health Law. This addition, titled the New York Reproductive Health Act, ensures a woman’s right to an abortion and decriminalizes the medical practice of doing so. Essentially, it legalizes the access to late-term abortions past the 24th week only when the mother’s life is at-risk or the fetus is not viable.
Now, I have seen plenty of backlash towards the bill and have read multiple of the arguments for the “pro-life” groups and people who otherwise disagree, but none of the reasoning can outweigh one simple fact: It is the pregnant woman’s right to decide what is best for her in regards to reproductive health. There are really people out there who believe that a woman utilizing this law would be aborting a viable fetus at the 38th week of her pregnancy because of a change in heart… It pains me to think that there are other women out there who fail to see the suffering that some pregnant women will inevitably face when they find out that their child is underdeveloped and will die shortly after birth. Or perhaps someone who has had multiple complications and faces the possibility of losing their own life in attempt to bring about another. Is a woman really not allowed to choose herself?
Well thankfully, in New York, they now can. Despite those who refuse to understand the positive impact this will have on women for years to come, we must continue to advocate and educate until we, as women, can support other women in the fight for our own rights. Then, and only then, can we tackle the patriarchy and all the men that will still refuse our demands. I am thankful for my boyfriend who attended the march with me and knows that any unjust law is one worth fighting for, even when it does not directly affect him. I am also optimistic that we will one day overcome these disparities and finally have the equality we so rightfully deserve.
For some of my pictures from the march, visit the Women’s March gallery!