On Saturday, Oct. 2, marches and rallies were organized across the country to support reproductive rights, in response to Texas lawmakers passing the most restrictive abortion legislation in the U.S., banning the procedure after six weeks. The events were scheduled to happen just before the Supreme Court reconvenes on Oct. 4. One of the more than 650 marches nationwide was held in Wilton, organized by a group of Wilton High School students and drawing about 80 people who chanted as they walked from Trackside Teen Center with signs along Route 7, through Wilton Center and on to Town Hall. The students held a bake sale to fundraise for an organization that assists women in Texas seeking abortions outside of the state. This op-ed was contributed by WHS student Kate Bendett, one of the organizers.
Girls protect girls. It’s a more modern term used in the feminist world. It means that despite the fact that I may not agree with another girl or may not want to support her ideas, I will always choose to protect her in any situation where she is under threat.
In this case, our neighbors down in the state of Texas require some protection for their bodies, and for their right to abortion. Recently, Texas passed bill SB8, which criminalizes abortions past six weeks of conception and makes it legal to convict any person of aiding another in receiving an abortion as well. The six-week term comes from the idea that life starts at the first sign of a heartbeat, which in rare cases has been seen at this early stage. In contrast, most women are unaware that they are pregnant at this time. This is why on Oct. 2, our group of high school students hosted a march and fundraiser at Trackside in protest of SB8.
My name is Kate Bendett and I stood alongside over 80 different women, men, children and others today in support of reproductive rights in the state of Texas.
Over the course of two hours, I watched as each attendee gathered in the Trackside parking lot in Wilton Town Center. As each person walked over to our table they asked their questions and they bought their brownies before preparing themselves for our march to Town Hall.
One of the more popular questions we were asked as we handed out our pumpkin bread slices was, “Why?” Why is this important to you? What does this all mean? It was a question that was answered differently by each girl when it was asked.
“We live in a country where we have the right to get an abortion without fear. This has recently changed with the new Texas law that has made women everywhere scared. Today was a really important day to see everyone come out and march for our rights again. It is crazy to hear that all over the country women are marching for rights that we should have every day without fear. I definitely think that we made an impact at our rally today in Wilton,” said one coordinator of our bake sale.
But one of the largest takeaways from our event was one that wasn’t expressed in words, but rather in rapid honks from the cars on Route 7. Often, we are told that there is a stereotypical image of a feminist. A feminist is described as a woman with large opinions and undermining thoughts about men. She is loud when she enters the room and overly sensitive to the comments that men make. She is of a younger generation and she voices her feminism as often as possible.
Today I think this image of a feminist was shattered. As our march began up Route 7 we chanted different slogans of the feminist movement. “My body, my choice!” “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Texas law has got to go!” We received much support from the drivers who just happened to be out that day. Drivers cheered out their cars and held up thumbs up to show their alliance with our message. Many cars honked rapidly as they sped to the next turn. Today I saw a feminist who drove a Toyota Camry pass us on their weekend commute. Beside them, I saw feminists in Chevy trucks and hybrids, sedans and minivans, all different types of people who waved and cheered with all different kinds of cars. Some of the cars had kids in the back seat and some of them had American flags and hula girls on their dashboards.
I think it was so important to see such a welcome response. Before it had felt as if the whole world was against us and against giving us back the power over our bodies. But it was nice to know that the car next to you at the red light, the person running the register at the grocery store, the guy driving home with his kids from their Saturday sports might all be feminists.
Another organizer was Wilton High School senior Cathy Campbell. She said, “I think it’s really important that all across the country we show our solidarity and support with Texas women, which is why we chose to donate our proceeds to the Trust Women Foundation. It was amazing to see so many people come from around Connecticut to the event and refreshing to see how energetic everyone was.”
I could only hope that the brave people in the state of Texas could feel the same support after today.
At the ending of our march, we had raised $850 to the foundation. If you would like to donate to our fundraiser but are afraid you have missed the deadline, don’t worry. We will be accepting donations until Wednesday, Oct. 6 via Venmo. All of our donations and proceeds are going directly to the Trust Women Foundation in Oklahoma, which works to transport women via bus from the city of Dallas to the Oklahoma border, ensuring that women still have access to proper healthcare and safe abortions without criminalization. Many of these doctors and staff members are risking their careers and paying for these procedures out of personal funding. All donations will go to providing more resources for the foundation and ensuring that abortion is accessible.