An angry Women’s March
Emotions and radical pro-abortion sentiment ran high at 2021 Women’s Marches
Eight months pregnant, 25-year-old Brei Brooke held a fetal Doppler to her stomach and blasted the sound of her baby’s heartbeat through a megaphone to the abortion activists gathered for the Women’s March. She and five other pro-lifers counterprotested the Oct. 2 event at the State Capitol in Denver. The marchers seemed peeved. “This march was called a Women’s March, so I would assume that all women were invited and all women were accepted at this march,” Brooke said later. “But it was very clear that this was a march just for people who supported abortion.”
When Brooke and her team held signs with phrases like “I am the pro-life generation,” the marchers tried to block them with their umbrellas. At one point, a mass of marchers swarmed the pro-lifers and began yelling at them, kicking their ankles, and stealing their signs. Brooke said someone spit on her and others told her they hoped her baby would die. Brooke captured a video of one of her team members saying through a megaphone, “Abortion is only successful if it kills a baby.” In response, a woman in a pink crop top yelled, “If I want to kill my baby, I will [obscenity] kill it.” Another woman screamed, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” As the pro-lifers tried to leave, marchers threatened to follow them home.
The pro-life gathering in Denver was one of roughly 25 counterprotests that Students for Life organized after learning the 2021 Women’s March organizers had rebranded roughly 600 events on the first weekend of October as “abortion justice” demonstrations. Pro-lifers at other march locations in various U.S. cities saw similar outrage, especially against Texas’ new law protecting unborn babies once they have a detectable heartbeat. The tone of this year’s marches not only demonstrated the fixation on abortion among many on the political left, but it also signaled a galvanized pro-abortion movement that could prove influential in the upcoming midterm elections.
What shocked Students for Life staff member Elizabeth Nogueras-Rivera the most about the marchers in Washington, D.C., wasn’t the number of people who gave pro-life counterprotesters the middle finger or the obscene language they used. “It was really the signs that people wrote before they even got there that they were proudly holding up,” she said. She recalled signs with messages such as, “I eat kids for breakfast,” and “[Obscenity] them kids.”
“Those really showed the heart of where the abortion industry is at and what their goals are,” she said. “They are for the killing of babies.”
At the Minneapolis march, pro-life Concordia University student Jennifer Bakalov captured video of a pro-abortion protester hitting her with a sign. Winona State University Jamie Scherdin saw a young boy at the march making obscene gestures to people and holding a sign that said, “Real men support women’s rights.” His mom carried a sign that said, “Mind your own uterus,” with a drawing of a uterus holding up two middle fingers.
The pro-abortion movement’s angry reaction to a flurry of legal developments in the past six weeks will likely continue with abortion in the political spotlight in the coming months. On Sept. 1, the Texas heartbeat law took effect, and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request to block it. On Sept. 20, the Supreme Court announced the date for oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case that challenges Mississippi’s law protecting babies from abortion after 15 weeks. And on Sept. 24, the U.S. House of Representatives responded to the Texas law by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, a radical pro-abortion bill that would essentially codify Roe v. Wade into law if it passed in the Senate and was signed by the president.
The week following the Women’s March, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute released a report showing that states had enacted a record 106 pro-life bills in 2021—the first time pro-life laws had reached triple digits in a single year.
Texas’ heartbeat bill was the primary instigator of outrage during the Oct. 2 demonstrations.
“Texas was in the air,” said Mallory Finch. The 26-year-old president of the Students for Life initiative Pro-Life Future Charlotte helped organize the counterprotest to the Women’s March in Charlotte, N.C. She said she saw signs with phrases like “We will not become Texas” and heard speakers at the march talking about the heartbeat law. Finch saw participants holding signs saying, “Ruth sent me,” a reference to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg’s replacement, Amy Coney Barrett, has a pro-life track record and could tip the court in favor of the Mississippi law in the upcoming Dobbs case.
Nogueras-Rivera pinpointed the Texas law as “the tipping point” for the abortion movement, and recent data showed it has galvanized voters on the left. According to a September poll from the group All In Together, the Texas heartbeat law makes 59 percent of U.S. voters “more interested in voting in the 2022 elections.” The increased interest is mostly among voters who support legal abortion.
Finch said pro-lifers shouldn’t shrink back from the political sphere. North Carolina has an open seat in the Senate and added a House seat after the last census, so she plans to emphasize to her pro-life group the importance of voting in the 2022 election: “We can’t slack off this midterm.”
But she added that the strong negative reaction to the Texas law speaks to a deeper, cultural problem pro-lifers must work to reverse. “Changing culture as well as changing laws, they go hand-in-hand,” Finch said. “We need to be changing culture through education and through sharing resources and … showing love and compassion.”