UCSF Marches for Abortion Rights

Friday, May 20, 2022

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity… When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I grew up in a small conservative town in Texas where abortion is considered murder, queerness is considered a mental illness, and discussions about race are considered hostile towards white people. But even in a place like this, my right to an abortion, my bodily freedom and autonomy, was protected. This is no longer true for the kids growing up in my hometown, and it’s only going to get worse.

Abortion is a crucial form of healthcare. 

The importance of abortions and dire consequences of banning them is detailed in the following text taken from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology website

“Induced abortion is an essential component of women’s health care. Like all medical matters, decisions regarding abortion should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers and without undue interference by outside parties. Like all patients, women obtaining abortion are entitled to privacy, dignity, respect, and support.

Many factors influence or necessitate a woman’s decision to have an abortion. They include, but are not limited to, contraceptive failure, barriers to contraceptive use and access, rape, incest, intimate partner violence, fetal anomalmeies, illness during pregnancy, and exposure to teratogenic medications.

Pregnancy complications, including placental abruption, bleeding from placenta previa, preeclampsia or eclampsia, and cardiac or renal conditions, may be so severe that abortion is the only measure to preserve a woman’s health or save her life.

Where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, women resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted abdominal and bodily trauma, ingestion of dangerous chemicals, self-medication with a variety of drugs, and reliance on unqualified abortion providers. Today, approximately 21 million women around the world obtain unsafe, illegal abortions each year, and complications from these unsafe procedures account for approximately 13% of all maternal deaths, nearly 50,000 annually.”

If Roe is overturned, there will be unnecessary suffering and death that could be easily prevented with modern medicine. 

This is why we must do what we can to preserve our reproductive rights. This is why I organized a protest in support of abortion rights at UCSF. And this is why so many people came out in support. 

“The right to an abortion is a fundamental right, and the possibility that the Supreme Court might overturn this decision is yet another sign that the American government continues to fail to perform its duty,” said Anagh Ravi, one of the graduate students who attended the protest. “In times like this, it is important to organize your community, to speak out and take action against a blatant injustice. It is critical that we continue to organize at UCSF, and fight for our rights, as they are far from granted.”

At the protest last Thursday, we marched around the quad at the UCSF Mission Bay campus shouting, “My Body! My Voice! My Freedom! My Choice!” Our voices were so loud that the police were called.

A pregnant post-doc stepped up to the megaphone and spoke brokenheartedly about how afraid she was, because even though she wants the child she’s carrying, pregnancy and childbirth are full of potential complications and without abortions people die.

Without abortions, people are forced to carry and birth dead and unviable fetuses. This fear is echoed by most of us with uteruses.

I fear for my loved ones in conservative states who are in immediate danger of losing their bodily autonomy, and for the people who will be forced to endure pregnancy and child labor. I fear for the people who will resort to unsafe methods for abortion, and for the people who won’t be able to get the medical care they need. I fear for the health care professionals who will be prosecuted for helping their patients. And most of all, I fear the dark future we will step into if rescinding human rights becomes precedent.

No Civil Right has ever been taken away by the Supreme Court, and overturning Roe v Wade would set a dangerous precedent for rescinding other Civil Rights, such as marriage equality and voting rights, that our predecessors fought and died for. 

The rights of queer and trans people are already being threatened around the country. More than a dozen states have passed, or are attempting to pass, legislation that bans gender-affirming care for trans youths. This is health care that is crucial for the mental health of most trans people, and without it there will be a rise in suicides in the trans community. If we don’t stand up now and fight to preserve our Civil Rights, we are doing the people who fought and died for these rights, ourselves, and our children a grave disservice.

Abortion is healthcare, and it is our responsibility at UCSF, as a leading medical institution, to speak up for the right to safe and accessible healthcare for all. Failure to do so is compliance with violence against women and trans folk.

“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” – John Lewis