Abortion Rights Rally
Students protest the abortion ban in South Dakota
March 26, 2006 3:27 PM
Drawings of a wired hanger with a red slash across it described the signs at a rally which opposed the abortion ban in South Dakota.
“Women are going to get abortions whether it’s legal or not, so we have to do what we can to keep them safe,” said Molly Siegel, 22, a political science junior, and member of the student organization, Voices 4 Sexual Freedom (VOX).
VOX organized the rally, which brought about 30 students to the Malcolm X Plaza from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on March 23.
The anti-abortion law - signed into legislation by Gov. Mike Rounds (R) on March 6 - makes it illegal for anyone to perform an abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. An abortion performed under any other circumstances – even in cases of rape or incest – is considered a felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2006.
According to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 18 states are currently considering a range of abortion bans that will deny women’s right to decisions about health care, and 10 of these states are considering bills similar to South Dakota’s ban.
“The day that all of us thought would never come has," announced Laura Hahn of National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League ( NARAL) Pro-choice California, in reference to the South Dakota law.
According to Women’s Studies professor Deborah Cohler, even without the ban, South Dakota only has one abortion clinic that is staffed by doctors who drive or fly in once a week.
“This is not an issue about morality or ethics, this is about power and control,” said Cohler to the crowd. “Women are being seen as children, who are not capable of making their own decision.”
One point that the speakers repeatedly emphasized was the fact that most people in the United States were pro-choice. According to Hahn, 63 percent of Americans supported the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade in which women were guaranteed the right to an abortion, and 71 percent believed in a woman’s right to choose.
California is one of the most pro-choice states in the union, yet 41 percent of counties in the state do not have an abortion provider, Hahn said. “If Gov. Schwarzenegger says that he supports choice, then I challenge him to put his money where his mouth is,” she added.
While most of the rally attendees were pro-choice, there were some who "praised" the anti-abortion law.
“Abortion is a form of premeditated murder,” said John Powell, 24, a business senior. "They happen as a result of irresponsible behavior and I praise South Dakota’s ban.”
While Brandon Bravo, 24, a graduate student studying cell and molecular biology, claims to be for women’s rights in all other regards, he sides with the abortion ban due to his Roman Catholic beliefs and biological perspective on the uniqueness of living beings.
“I just think there’s an inconsistent ethics on life,” he said, referring to pro-lifers, who denounce abortion by equating it with murder while still supporting the war and/or the death penalty.
However, others were determined to fight for a woman's right to choose.
“I’m shocked because even with Bush, and his regressive policies, I’d think the majority would stand up and say this isn’t right,” said VOX member Katrina Radojevic, 22, a graduate student studying history. "This is an ongoing struggle because our rights are never set in stone, and we’ve got to fight for them.”
She also said that in order to prevent a ban like this to spread, there should be more public discourse about the issue. The point of the rally, she added, was to plant a seed and raise awareness.
The rally also featured musical performances by the Oakland-based group, Da Hawnay Troof, as well as two bands in which SF State students were members - Betsy and the Teen Takeover, and The Starfish.
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