CRONKITE NEWS

Roe is gone, but Arizonans still join abortion opponents marching in D.C.

Jan 21, 2024, 7:15 AM

The 51st March for Life begins to move from a rally and speeches on the National Mall to its annual...

The 51st March for Life begins to move from a rally and speeches on the National Mall to its annual protest outside the Supreme Court on a snowy Friday in Washington. (Photo by Ian McKinney/Cronkite News)

(Photo by Ian McKinney/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – For Tucson resident Jacob Mauer, joining the National March for Life in Washington was a “bucket-list moment” – even if it came on a frigid, snowy Friday that kept down the crowd size, if not the excitement.

“I went to a Catholic school growing up so even from a very early age I was always taught that all life is important and so I felt like coming here,” said Mauer, 22.

“Obviously, it’s not a short trip to D.C. and the weather’s not great, but this is too important of an issue to not come out and support,” he said as he wrapped a blanket over his shoulders to ward off the below-freezing temperatures on the National Mall.

Mauer was one of thousands who turned out for the 51st annual march, an anti-abortion rally held to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling recognizing a right to abortion.

Roe was overturned in 2022, but the fight has moved to states – including Arizona – and abortion opponents still march, hoping for a day when they said abortion is “unthinkable.”

Lifelong Tucson resident Kourtney Rivers said she has been coming to Washington for the march every year.

“I think it just comes down to the fact that we have to be a voice for the voiceless,” said Rivers, 41. “Life begins at conception and I just can’t, as a human being, and as a mom, sit by and watch people kill an innocent human being.”

Friday’s march was the second since the Supreme Court overturned Roe with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. In that case, the court said there is no federal right to an abortion in the Constitution and said the issue should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

As of December, at least 14 states had abortion bans with limited exceptions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Voters in other states – including Arizona – have taken the issue to the ballot.

In Arizona, the current law bans abortions in most cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy – but opponents have sued, arguing that a 19th century ban is still in effect. The Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments in that case in December, but has not issued a ruling yet.

Abortion rights supporters in the state, meanwhile, are pushing to put an initiative on the ballot this fall that would amend the state constitution to protect abortion.

Despite the Supreme Court overturning Roe, many protesters Friday continued to push for more action by both state and federal officials. While Rivers called the Dobbs decision a “step in the right direction,” she still believes further steps need to be taken.

“We’ve got to continue to get up and fight because if we don’t then nobody will,” she said.

Speakers at the rally included athletes, entertainers and anti-abortion members of Congress who continued to repeat a refrain, that the ultimate goal of the movement is to “make abortion unthinkable.”

That was echoed by Tyler Kamp, a Surprise resident who attended the march with friends.

“I think it’s kind of what they (speakers) have been saying where we want to make abortion unthinkable and I think while yeah, we’ve got some states doing the right thing, there’s also a lot more that we need to continue to push in the right direction,” said Kamp.

A steady snowfall muted much of the two-hour rally on the Mall, before protesters marched to the Supreme Court. The weather also appeared to keep the size of the crowd smaller than those of recent years, but many said they were pleasantly surprised by the size of the protest.

“It’s just a great atmosphere,” Kamp said. “I’m actually surprised how many people are here with the crappy weather we’ve got, but I think there’s a real buzz around the crowd. I’m just really excited to be here and I think so is everyone else.”

Another theme was to push for more aid for new and expecting mothers. While he is opposed to abortion, Mauer said there “has to be a balance of course.”

“I’m not in a position to say to every woman in America they don’t have a valid reason to get an abortion,” Mauer said. “What I can do is continue to push for not just legislation that restricts abortion but also helps the mother both before and after birth. I think a lot of times people will miss the fact that this needs to be a holistic issue.”

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Roe is gone, but Arizonans still join abortion opponents marching in D.C.