Texas Rally for Life promotes anti-abortion advocacy at the Capitol

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Anti-abortion activists rallied and marched together at the State Capitol Saturday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Religious banners and pink “Defund Planned Parenthood” signs flapped in the breeze as anti-abortion rights marchers descended upon the Capitol on
Saturday afternoon.

The annual Texas Rally for Life march protests the Roe v. Wade decision made 44 years ago, legalizing abortion in the U.S. Biology freshman Veronica Remmert said last weekend’s global Women’s March drowned out anti-abortion voices.

“I want all women and men to be equal, but I don’t think that was exactly what their message was,” Remmert said. “The Women’s March wasn’t just about being equal, it was about promoting a culture of death as well. To be pro-life isn’t to be against women.”

At 3 p.m. there were more than 5,000 marchers, according to the Austin Police Department. The voices of preteen girls led the “We are the pro-life generation” chant as families pushed strollers uphill on Guadalupe Street. Panting dogs wore red duct tape with the word “life,” which sealed some people’s lips.

Pre-med freshman Hannah Reyes said she was nervous about participating in the rally because UT and Austin are notoriously liberal.

“We are the minority, and now it’s time to speak for those who can’t, despite me being nervous of being marginalized,” Reyes said.

Around 2 p.m. in front of the Capitol gates, some counter-protesters chanted, “Pro-life, your name’s a lie. You don’t care if women die.” 

“To a point you want to be respectful of everyone’s beliefs,” UTeach senior Bess McNiel said about the protesters. “I don’t agree with it, but I’m not going to say they can’t because I wouldn’t want someone to tell me I couldn’t.”

Nicole Thompson, 23, was protesting the rally and went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Thompson said she is disheartened by motions to defund Planned Parenthood and by some of the marchers yelling at her.

“We’ve been told we’re going to hell,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely very religious. Them shouting at me isn’t going to do anything to me.”

A protester and a marcher embraced briefly to settle their differences. Some further back recited the Hail Mary prayer while carrying rosary beads. A small figure of Mary, cloaked in white and wearing a golden crown, floated down the street on marchers’ shoulders.

In June 2013, former state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibustered and killed a Senate bill restricting abortion access in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court later struck down the bill. 

Joe Pojman, executive director of anti-abortion nonprofit Texas Alliance for Life, said their movement has resurged despite landmark rulings.

“We had a big setback handed to us by the Supreme Court,” Pojman said. “Those setbacks always have made our movement grow, and that’s what I’m expecting in 2017.”

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, filed House Bill 948 to outlaw abortions in Texas. State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said he expects anti-abortion pieces such as Tinderholt’s bill to pass this session under a Republican-majority state and federal government.

“It’s always about what’s doing what is right,” Cook said. “Your presence along the legislative process is uplifting (for) legislators like myself and each one of these members here today.”