Hello! My name is Sandra Sanchez and I am the new intern at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia! Yesterday I went to the Rally for Choice in Richmond.
Yesterday marked the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision, which gave women the right to privacy when deciding to terminate a pregnancy. Yesterday, the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition, which includes NARAL Pro-Choice VA, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, and League of Women Voters of Virginia, and other great organizations, hosted the Rally for Choice in Richmond celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Roe!
Despite the cold weather, a huge crowd came in support and to listen to inspirational speakers at the Virginia State Capitol. Yesterday we heard from pro-choice legislators in the Virginia General Assembly, including Sen. Favola, Sen. Herring, Sen. Northam, Del. Ward, and Del. Plum, and cheered their work to protect women’s rights in the Commonwealth. We also heard from Sara Hutchinson of Catholics for Choice and Dr. Karen Remley, the former Virginia Health Commissioner who resigned over the Governor and Attorney General’s politicization of TRAP regulations.
Dr. Remley told the crowd, “I, like I think a lot of you, acknowledge that abortion is a morally complex and difficult issue. But I really believe that all of us face morally complex and difficult issues every day. Whether it is deciding what bill to vote for and how to represent your constituents fairly, whether it’s at a patient’s bedside, or whether it’s as a state agency person trying to figure out how to use funding. We all have many complex issues…that we discuss. It’s important that women are given the authority to have that discussion with their doctor, with their family, with whomever they choose, and are not interfered with by others.”
After all the speakers, all those in attendance lined up on the sidewalk between the General Assembly and the Capitol Building to show their presence as Virginia legislators walked by. Our activists were greeted by Virginia legislators such as Del. Herring, Del. Lopez, and Del. Spruill. Then the crowd headed into the General Assembly gallery to watch our pro-choice legislators commemorate Roe v. Wade.
As someone who was born almost 20 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, it was great to celebrate the fight and victory of women 40 years ago. Despite the cold and the awful signs of the counter protestors, it was truly a wonderful experience to be around people who feel such as strongly as I do about the issue of reproductive rights. It was awesome to hear from those fighting in Richmond and how they continue to fight this important fight for women in the commonwealth. This wasn’t my first rally in Richmond and still every time I attend a pro-choice rally I think of how important this issue is and how far we still have to go.
Thankfully, I am not fighting the fight of generations before me. But we are still fighting a similar fight. Even though Roe v. Wade was a great thing for women’s choice, Virginia is a state that wants to take that choice away. Being someone who was born and raised in Virginia, I want to feel proud of my state. But with people like Ken Cuchinelli, Gov. McDonnell, and anti-choice legislators, it can be difficult. Yesterday restored my belief that Virginia will move on from recent attacks on women’s rights, and solidified my hope that one day, Virginia will protect the rights of women to make our own decisions. It was amazing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with some of Virginia’s best activists. Here’s to many more anniversaries to celebrate – and to more victories for women!