Demonstrations, decorated posters and cries filled the streets of Uptown Charlotte early Saturday, Oct. 2. The motive? Reproductive rights.
On Sept. 1, the Texas Heartbeat Law, formally known as Texas Senate Bill 8, went into effect, banning abortions once cardiac activity is detected. This typically occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy.
The law makes few exceptions, permitting abortions solely if the pregnancy could endanger the mother’s life, or lead to substantial or irreversible impairment to a major bodily function. The law also states that rape and incest are not plausible reasons for an abortion.
Following the passing, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio passed laws restricting abortion.
Outraged by the law, nine East Mecklenburg students joined the Women’s Rally, hoping to bring attention to the law and hinder its spread, while representing East Meck’s Activism Club.
The club members who attended were Benjamin Goguen, Brianna Alvarado, Madison Kreutzer, Mackenzie Fridley, Hidaya Fatao, Valentina Moore, Lucy Grace Toth, Lyla Zimmerman and Samiya Townsend.
“We thought it was important to raise awareness since this is a widespread issue that is only getting worse, and it’s getting harder to veto laws because of the division we have in our legislature,” said Goguen, co-president of Activism Club, and one of the organizers for the club’s attendance at the march.
The Activism Club’s goal is to help raise awareness on issues within the community. The clubs cover things such as dress code, gender and racial inequality, racism and bullying.
“The club is our way of getting people involved with issues that the government may not be addressing,” Goguen said. “We want to be inclusive to everyone and we want to help out.”
This government inattention is what pushed the members to go the extra mile and attend the march. After the Texas Heartbeat Law was enacted, fear of being “next” was expressed by the club members.
“I thought it was a step backward in the fight for reproductive rights,” said Valentina Moore, co-president of the Activism Club.
The rally began around 11 a.m. that Saturday, with guest speakers retelling stories of their experiences of abortion and the importance of having abortion available to women. The protesters wore “Never Again” pin badges, with the depiction of a hanger and circle backslash symbol. The badges referenced the dangerous self-induced abortions used before the Roe vs. Wade decision, when women used hangers and other extremes to abort their fetuses.
After the speeches, the walk commenced. Starting and returning to First Ward Park, the protesters circled the Uptown Charlotte area, chanting with posters and pride.
“The march was eye-opening and it felt empowering to be with other activists,” junior Valentina Moore said. “It was peaceful and the speakers told incredible stories. I enjoyed marching through Uptown Charlotte and getting supported by people passing by. It was a great experience and I’m glad the Activism Club was able to take part in it.”
Despite the peacefulness at the rally, every controversial opinion will have its naysayers. After the rally had concluded, rallies were met with opposers.
“The Activism Club itself has its fair share of opposers who support the Texas Heartbeat Law. We want to be inclusive, so we accept all viewpoints. Unless birth control and contraceptives become more affordable, I don’t think appeasing each side is possible,” Goguen said.
As Activism Club plans to continue with their fight for Reproductive Rights, the club is waiting to see if the now adjourned Texas Heartbeat Law is repealed, and vows that if reproductive rights are endangered in North Carolina, the club intends to protest and spread awareness in the community and school.
“Last year, the club sent out letters hoping to bring attention to racial divisions in school, and we hope to be more active in the community during the year,” Goguen said.