A large crowd gathered at Veterans’ Memorial Park for the Body Autonomy Rights Protest and March in Sierra Vista on Saturday, July 2, in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade.
On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 50-year ruling of Roe v. Wade that allowed for legal access to abortion. The court’s 5-4 decision sparked protests and debate across the nation.
Event organizers Alicia Atencio and Lauren Chapman collaborated in organizing the protest and march.
“I’ve always had a little bit of a rough time with protests because I feel there’s no clear direction,” Atencio said. “Sometimes we can get protests done without actually getting anything productive done.
“My main thing was I want to get people out there and get them educated. A lot of people are not registered to vote and are not confident enough to make the votes that they should be making or would be making because there’s so much false information going around or maybe they don’t know that there’s elections coming up.”
She said that the main purpose of the march/protest was not to project anger but rather to embody education and productivity.
For Atencio, the overturn of Roe V. Wade is a personal matter.
“I am somebody who had to unfortunately be in that situation with a non-viable baby,” she said. “It’s one of the most painful times of my life. There are people out there who feel that taking this right away in a time that is already extremely, extremely hard is kind of a trigger point for myself.”
Atencio believes that education and compassion are important aspects.
“I think coming from a place of compassion is always going to be the best way to fight hatred,” she said. “Somebody who doesn’t want to see things from my point of view because I realize that is not always going to happen.”
Atencio said she will often hear people say abortion is an empowering decision.
“I 100 percent disagree with that even though I can’t tell somebody else how to feel and I won’t tell somebody else how to feel,” she said. “Abortion has to be one of the most difficult decisions to ever make in the world. For the people out there who think it’s an empowering decision and we want to go out and do this — we do not want to go out and do this. But having the choice to do it if we feel it is necessary is what’s important to us.
“We have lost complete control over our own body, but not only our own body but our future as well, as individuals we are being forced to have kids.”
With the overturn of the ruling, Atencio believes it is a precedent for the Supreme Court to overturn rulings for contraception and gay marriage.
A resident of Sierra Vista, Shannon Glasser, attended the rally and helped assist with the voter registration table.
“I cannot believe that this has happened to us,” she said. “As a nation, as a county, as a state, it’s unbelievable. We have to show others, especially in this county, that there are people out here that care and are willing to come out.”
Glasser said that anger, disbelief and frustration were many of the emotions her friends expressed.
“Even people that I’d never thought would be on the side of pro-choice are just frantic,” she said.
“We have the right to make our own decisions and our own mistakes,” she said. “If we make a mistake, it’s not going to be on our neighbor, it’s going to be on us. We appreciate you caring, but you’re caring too close. We need to have the freedom to be able to decide what we do.”
Glasser explained that people won’t begin to understand situations until it happens to them. As more people begin speaking out, those situations become clearer.
“That’s when they really start to feel the empathy and that’s when things start to change,” she said.
She hopes for unity and peace and that women on the side of pro-choice are fighting for the generations before and after them.
Gatherers at the event held signs up with a myriad of statements. An open mic discussion was held for attendees to let their voice be heard before the march began from the Centennial Pavilion and onto Fry Boulevard.
“I feel like the Supreme Court is supposed to be the voice of the people and they’re not speaking for the people,” Brandi Allee said.
“I think the other side is coming from a place of religious background,” she added. “I don’t think that our Founding Fathers were Christians and I don’t think that’s what they put in the Constitution. They don’t get to speak for people who don’t feel the same as them because there’s a separation of church and state.” Allee hopes people realize that Roe v. Wade decision isn’t speaking for women across the nation.
As a health care provider, Bekah Charry wanted to be an advocate for her patients and people in the community who may feel they don’t have a voice.
“As a provider who prescribes birth control on a daily basis, this is becoming a real conversation that I’m having in my clinics now with teenagers who are trying to protect themselves and make safe decisions,” she said. “We’re having to have conversations about the availability of birth control and how that’s going to affect them, so that’s something that I never imagined I’d be doing in my lifetime.” ”This is not a political issue,” Charry added. “This is about women’s choices and women’s bodies and our politics need to stay out of it, as well as men.”
For Sierra Vista, she hoped that the rally showed people they are visible.
“This is largely considered to be a conservative population, but there are people here who are fighting for our rights and we are not going to stop.”