After a two-year break, the Denver Womxn's March is back, with more need now than ever. Following the Dobbs decision in June and abortion bans being implemented across the nation, we reflect on why the Denver Womxn's March matters so much in our current context.
For me, the first time I had an understanding of womxn’s bodies was when I was six or seven years old and my mom pulled up our Encyclopedia Britannica to show me a picture of a fetus. She had a miscarriage and, in the best way, was attempting to show us why the potential baby was no longer there. What she didn’t tell me until several years later was that due to the laws of the country we were living in, they would not induce her even though the baby had no heartbeat and was clinically defined as an Intrauterine Fetal Demise. She was in her mid-forties and had to wait until her body rejected the fetus. She was in a suspended state of pregnancy, with an unviable baby but not yet in the process of going through a miscarriage. In spite of her requests for induction, she was denied both surgical (dilation and extraction — i.e., D&E or D&C) or medicated (mifepristone and/or misoprostol) abortion procedures. Essentially, she was denied agency over her own care and forced to carry the pregnancy for an additional two weeks.
What shocks me the most is that 25 years later, after living in America for 18 years, the land known for freedom and liberty, I am bearing witness to womxn being stripped of their agency. I had a baby last year, and for the duration of my pregnancy, not only did I worry about adequate child care, medical bills and fetal abnormalities, but I also had to keep an eye on the changing reproductive landscape while managing a bout of perinatal depression. I worried every time I walked into my doctor’s office whether her personal or religious beliefs would mean a denial of my care or choices. I worried if she would be honest with me about the health and viability of my child. I worried that if she knew I would want an abortion in the case of an abnormality, whether she would in fact tell me there was an abnormality. I wanted the choice and the agency to determine the care that my child would receive, if any.
It’s unfortunate that we are currently in a nation where certain factions are trying to equate "living" with having a "life" – with no acknowledgment of the suffering "living" can cause. Forcing women to continue a pregnancy, to have a stillbirth, or to have a birth and watch their baby die is inhumane.
I understand that many of us get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, especially given the past three years of the pandemic. We worry about so many things, from work to bills to the price of gas. We worry about our partners and our kids and our friends. We don’t worry about the agency of our bodies and how we choose to live our lives...until we have to.
While we are caught up in our day-to-day, our rights are being stripped from us. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has explicitly said that the fall of Roe v. Wade warrants a revisiting of Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges, rulings that have protected our right to contraception, privacy and marriage.
Colorado was the first state to legalize abortion in 1967 and the 22nd to recently protect abortion rights under state law, with the passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act in March 2022. Meanwhile, we are becoming an island in the Midwest for those seeking abortions. This is causing a flood of patients from surrounding states who are seeking abortion care or treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. We are seeing an unsustainable capacity of patients, which is causing delays in treatment for locals. It’s an untenable situation for the medical staff that puts them at risk of burnout, not to mention harassment by anti-abortion protestors.
Steps are being taken to strip our abortion rights beyond the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Extremist anti- abortion "abolitionists" are pushing to classify having an abortion as "homicide." This would enable states to charge people, including the person receiving the abortion procedure, with prison sentences and the death penalty. The National Advocates for Pregnant Women has stated that about 1,300 women have faced charges or arrests since 2006 for things like inducing abortion or experiencing miscarriages; while this is all taking place, hospitals around the country are turning away people in the midst of their miscarriages because the symptoms are identical to those of abortions and they do not wish to be held legally liable.
Should anything happen at the federal level to ban or limit abortion care and treatment, we will have no immediate recourse. Currently, House Republicans are eyeing a fifteen-week abortion ban, should they regain control of Congress. What happens in Washington, D.C., will always impact Colorado.
This year the Denver Womxn’s March is returning with more inspiration than ever. As Coloradans, we will march to protect our rights and our neighbors’ rights — because they impact the services we receive in our state and beyond. After a long COVID hiatus, Denver Womxn’s March will march on Saturday, October 8, at 9 a.m. at Civic Center Park. Join me there, share your story, and let’s raise our voices together.
Sara Saihati works as an Alliance Manager in the tech sector, where she focuses on bringing people and communities together. She is on the board of Denver Womxn's March, has served on the Colorado Technology Association’s Young Professionals Board, and has done volunteer work with ICNA Colorado’s Day of Dignity, which works to assist the Denver homeless population. She holds a bachelor of chemical engineering degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; having traveled and lived across the U.S., she feels she has finally found a home in the Denver area.
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