Pro-life movement takes to the street in downtown San Antonio

Gauri Raje, News Editor

On the eve of Roe v. Wade’s 50th anniversary, the San Antonio March for Life took place at the Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio. The event occurred six months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

Chants of “Texas is pro-life” were repeated as the event began with a prayer from the chairman for San Antonio March for Life and followed by the National Anthem. The chairman also called on the crowd to “defeat” the San Antonio Justice Charter, which includes decriminalization of abortion.

The first speaker at the event was senior Galaxy Acton, the president of Students for Life at UTSA. 

“We love participating in any pro-life march and also any counter-protest because it’s important for everyone to know that the pro-life generation is here — we’re not silent, and there’s a good amount of us,” Acton said. 

At the event, Acton spoke about what it is like to be a pro-life student facing harassment for her beliefs. Acton elaborated on one such experience which was met with a lukewarm response from UTSA admin.

“Regarding this incident of [on-campus harassment], it’s been reported … [we were both present] at the meetings to give our side, provide the evidence, everything, just for us to be told … ‘You’re still out tabling. Obviously, you don’t feel [threatened], obviously, you don’t feel harassed,’” Acton said. “And, you know, that’s hurtful because, at the end of the day, we’ve been saying, ‘Parents need us, and I’m not gonna be quiet because I’m being yelled at or ‘cause I’m being called names.’ Someone needs me.”

According to Acton, Students for Life America has been helping the on-campus chapter. The former has sent a letter to UTSA regarding the incident, to which a response is still pending. 

“[It also hurts the pro-life movement] because we’ve had people say, ‘I don’t wanna join because of the hate that you receive.’ We’ve had people leave because of mental health reasons, because of this,” Acton added.

Access to abortion, as it stands now, is prohibited in the state of Texas. This includes a ban on all abortions past the six-week mark and a trigger law that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Similar bans have been enacted in other states across the U.S.

Pedro Björn Ovin Suarez, vice president for Students for Life at UTSA, responded to the notion that, given this near-total abortion ban, America as a country is headed in a backward direction. Suarez said that the pro-life movement “realizes that abortion is a violent and traumatic experience both for the pre-born obviously and for the mother as well.”

“When people say that we’re going back to past times, I really don’t think so,” Suarez said. “I think we’re just opening our minds as a society and our eyes to this reality that abortion does not help women, and it actually hurts them.”

Given Texas’ near-total abortion ban, there have been calls to include an exception for cases of rape and incest. At The Texas Tribune Festival last September, Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols expressed that, if given a chance, he would vote yes for an exception to rape. The Tribune also reports that a poll on abortion conducted by the Texas Politics Project in July of 2022 reports that a majority of Texans support such an exception, with only 8% and 13 % in favor of banning abortion in cases of rape and incest, respectively. 

Acton and Suarez responded to these calls for exceptions, with Suarez referencing the story of one of the speakers at Saturday’s march — a sexual assault survivor who became pregnant as a result of the incident and chose not to seek an abortion. 

“We believe in support for [the woman], whatever she went through,” Acton said. “In the case of sexual assault, she deserves all the love in the world and all the resources she needs. But abortion adds to the violence of the rape, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Students for Life, we don’t support the exceptions because it’s still a human life and we support the woman and helping her through that experience.” 

Acton also explained the difference between the foster care system and adoption, adding that the stigma around adoption can be broken through education. Acton went on to explain some of the things that Students for Life at UTSA are doing to support pregnant students. This includes a Pregnant and Parenting Initiative, which is a scholarship awarded every May to students regardless of their stance on abortion. The organization presented three petitions — closer parking for pregnant women and families with infants, a resource room with free items like diapers, a study room that allows parenting students to study and more. They are also looking to do a Parent Day at UTSA to help make parenting students feel included in student life. Finally, the organization registered for Standing With You, where parents can find free and low-cost local resources.