The 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a constitutional guarantee to an abortion, was bitterly remembered last Sunday nationwide during the semi-annual Women’s March. Rather than celebrating, many found themselves mourning the loss of this freedom in light of Roe’s overturning in June 2022.
The protest, dubbed “Bigger than Roe,” took place in over 180 locations nationwide, with the main march being held in Madison, Wisconsin — a nod to the decision of abortion being left up to the discrepancy of the states.
Although Massachusetts has been a place that has remained relatively unharmed by the loss of the protections granted by Roe, 12 other states have already banned the practice in its entirety.
The march in Boston hosted an array of guest speakers, including District 1 Councilwoman Gabriela Coletta and abortion provider Dr. Aaron Hoffman. However, what was most pertinent about the turnout was the protest demographics — where the number of older individuals was equivalent, if not greater, to the number of younger participants.
Perhaps it’s because older people have more time for politics, including attending two-hour protests on a Sunday afternoon. But the proportionality of it likens to the generational perspective of the issue.
Roe v. Wade was a ruling that was first solidified in 1973 when the courts overruled Texas state law on the matter of abortion to allow the plaintiff known as “Jane Roe” to terminate her unwanted, but non-fatal pregnancy.
The struggle to secure Roe began in the late 1960s over issues involving the legalities of Planned Parenthood providing contraceptives to married couples. Prior to the establishment of this doctrine, legal abortions were few and far between, with only a few states allowing for the procedure if the mother’s life was at risk.
More common was the self-induced or illegal approach. A study conducted on low-income participants in 1960 concluded that eight in 10 people who terminated their pregnancies did so through this method.
The loopholes and steep price it took people to receive this necessary form of healthcare explains why older adults and the elderly are beginning to show up to these kinds of protests in larger numbers. Unlike younger teens and college students like ourselves, this specific demographic of individuals has to bear witness to the injustices born from a system meant to uphold the freedom of the people. Still, the arrangement of both young and old Americans alike showing up to raise awareness has proven the problem continues to plague society.
Apart from the intersectional turn out, one can not help but point to the shrinking size of these protests. The 2017 Women’s March perhaps saw the largest attendance with an estimated 3.3-4.6 million protesters showing up across the 670 events being held on all seven continents. In Washington DC alone, over 500,000 participants stormed the streets in defiance of Donald Trump’s inauguration just a day prior.
Amongst the crowd, protesters adorned in bright pink, cat-eared caps colloquially termed, “pussyhats,” as well as signs quoting some of the more egregious and ignorant things said by the former president.
Many note that these staple pieces are what seemed to have fueled these turn outs because, in the following years, participation has decreased significantly. While the numbers are not yet in from this year, data from 2018 does indicate that the outcome of participants was between 1.8 and 2.6 million — a nearly 2 million person decline.
The issue of abortion access is one that remains too dire for people to only turn out when the problem is “popular” in the media. Although we are still seeing all generations come together, if we truly want change — everyone needs to show up with the same past fervor.
This article was written by Opinion Editor Analise Bruno