By Caden Ziegler
The Texas State Capitol is “The place where government and history happen every day,” according to the Bob Bullock Museum. Not only are state laws birthed here, but the building also holds significant meaning to the surrounding citizens. Many people choose the rotunda in the center of the Capitol to protest, as it is the vessel that connects the people to the government.
One such event is going on today, Jan. 27, regarding abortion rights. A pro-life rally is in attendance, as well as a counter-protesting pro-choice rally. Forty-five years ago, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 protected the right to abortion within the first trimester of the pregnancy.
The Texas Alliance for Life website states that “legal abortion in our nation has claimed the lives of more than 60 million unborn children and has hurt countless women and men.” Beginning around 1 p.m., the group marched toward the Capitol building from the Ministry Fair on North Congress.
The Austin Chronicle defines this Rally for Life as “one of Texas’ the biggest anti-abortion events.” Texas Alliance for Life claims that there will be thousands of attendees, the website has a call to arms, telling followers to “organize a bus or carpool of people from your church, youth group, or local pro-life organization to come.”
Katie Tahuahua has been involved with Alliance for Life since college, and said, “We are here at the capitol for the Texas Rally for Life, which the Alliance for Life put on every year to bring pro-life people from across the state together to send a message to the capitol that we need to protect the unborn.”
“There are usually some protesters,” said Tahuahua. This year marks the fifth rally she has attended. Her boss, State Representative Isaac, helped write the sonogram bill. She said this bill requires that “women have a sonogram before they choose to have an abortion, [so] that they have completely informed consent with what they are doing.”
He also helped defund Planned Parenthood, so now all of their funding goes towards women’s health initiatives, providing birth control and health screenings to low income families. These initiatives do not provide abortion services.
Many people at the rally also took moderate views, believing that Roe v. Wade was wrong in allowing abortion so late into the pregnancy. One woman believed that abortion should be done in a shorter window of time, because there is scientific evidence that after a certain point the child/fetus can feel pain.
Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court case that established a protocol for state involvement in cases of abortion. According to the case, states must legalize abortion in the first trimester, states may choose to limit abortion access in the second trimester, and states may ban abortion in the third trimester. A subsequent Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, extended abortion protections to ensure that limits to abortion access must not place an “undue burden” on the woman seeking an abortion.
Lexie Cooper is the President of the Austin chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women. She and the Texas Handmaid’s, advocates of women’s reproductive rights, organized the counter protest that would meet the Rally for Life.
“I was raised Christian and I do strongly believe that a loving God would be pro-choice. I know that we have a lot of other religious people here who believe that as well,” Cooper said. The mass of people surrounding the Capitol was dotted with groups of sisters, religious women devoted to Jesus Christ but live in a convent rather than a monastery like nuns.
“We have a basic right, women can be free, abortion on demand and without apology,” shouted the protesters as they stood in front of the Capitol gates. On the South Grounds of the Capitol, a pro-life band played to greet the rally as they entered the grounds.
The Capitol is not only a government office or tourist destination, but a place where people come together, sometimes to express their differences, in hopes of building what they believe is a brighter future.