On Oct. 2, Students for Reproductive Justice, a student organization centered on access to sexual education and reproductive rights, went to the Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing for a march organized by MI Body MI Choice, a reproductive rights organization based in Michigan.
The march, one of hundreds happening across the country on the same day, occurred in response to Texas’ Heartbeat Bill, a law that bans an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. According to Students For Reproductive Justice President Katherine O’Connor, Lombard senior, the national day of protest was also in response to the Supreme Court’s refusal to block Texas’ abortion bill, calling for the Supreme Court to act on the law once they reconvened on Oct. 4.
According to O’Connor, between 1,500 and 2,500 people attended the march in Lansing, as Albion College students carpooled together. There were not a significant number of counter protesters at the event.
“It’s tense because we know what’s going on and we’re scared but it’s also celebratory because seeing how many people will turn out and say ‘I believe in this’ and stand up for it; I believe it’s cool,” said O’Connor.
For Aurora Suarez, Dallas junior, going to the march was personal.
“For me, it’s very personal considering that I’m from Texas,” said Suarez. “I wanted to show support to Michigan so they can avoid a similar ban here as well.”
At the state level, Michigan does not have a law protecting abortion, according to O’Connor. According to the Guttenmacer Institute, most abortions are illegal once fetal viability occurs in the state of Michigan.
“Essentially, if Roe V. Wade were to be overturned by the Supreme Court, abortion would be completely illegal in Michigan,” said O’Connor.
The march included speakers such as U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, State Rep. Sarah Anthony and representatives from Lansing-area pro-choice rights groups.
Days after the march passed, on Oct. 6, a federal judge in Texas issued an order that blocked the bill and its enforcement. Two days later, on Oct. 8, a federal appeals court temporarily reinstated the law.
Noelle Robert, Livonia sophomore, attended the march. Robert was surprised at the rapid developments centered on the Texas abortion law.
“I’m kind of surprised at how fast they can make such significant changes,” said Robert. “It’s crazy that we’re still fighting for this right,” said Robert.
For now, O’Connor and Students For Reproductive Justice are focused on launching educational programming centered on sexual health and wellness. The organization has considered potential programming co-sponsors such as the Albion College Democrats, the Anna Howard Shaw Center for Gender Equity and LGBriTs, among others.
O’Connor and Students For Reproductive Justice will begin working on canvassing events for the 2022 midterm elections during the spring semester.
“I will say we haven’t started super planning for the election and the canvassing,” said O’Connor. “It is still a year away, really in the spring and next fall. Right now we’re focusing on education and bringing people into the fold with the club and getting that investment so that people feel good about canvassing and doing the work.”
Students For Reproductive Justice meet Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in Robinson 203. Students interested in Students For Reproductive Justice’s future programming events can stay up-to-date on Instagram.