National Women's March: Rallying Against Deadly Abortion Restrictions

National Women's March: Rallying Against Deadly Abortion Restrictions
photo by Chadwick Fowler

On January 21, thousands of abortion rights supporters gathered near the Arizona Capitol for the annual National Women’s March. The Bigger Than Roe rally, which took place in Phoenix only two days before Roe v. Wade's anniversary, was bursting with the presence of passionate Latinas speaking up for abortion rights.

Considering that 42.9% of Phoenix’s population is Hispanic, their presence is important to drive the Women’s March mission forward. To reaffirm its commitment to reproductive freedom for all, the Bigger Than Roe campaign challenged politicians at all levels.

The movement goes beyond Roe v. Wade’s overturn because it concerns the rights and freedoms everyone deserves. The Women’s March, as a women-led movement, seeks to not only provide intersectional advocacy but also leverage the political power of diverse women and the communities they’re a part of. The strategic rally in Phoenix sought to light a fire in the hearts of voters and drive them to take action in the 2024 elections.

photograph of the National Women's March held in Phoenix January 2024

photo by Chadwick Fowler

Hosted by Elyssa Bustamante, known as The Funky Latina, the Women’s March saw a variety of speakers, half of them Latina women lending their strength to the fight for reproductive rights.

The speaker line-up included women like Rachel Carmona, Executive Director of Women’s March; Gloria Allred, Attorney, and Reproductive Rights Activist; Dr. DeShawn Taylor, Abortion Provider, Desert Star Institute for Family Planning; Celina Martinez, Community Organizer, Healthcare Rising Arizona; Analise Ortiz, State Representative District 24; Anna Hernandez, State Senator District 24, and many more.

All of these Latine voices spoke up in favor of the Arizona Abortion Access Act, a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the November 2024 ballot if enough voter signatures are collected. The proposed amendment aims to allow abortions before viability. Fetal viability varies from person to person and also by the medical resources that are offered in their community but is generally estimated to be at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The ballot requires a minimum of 383,923 valid Arizona voter signatures by July 3, and organizers are aiming to collect 500,000 signatures to go above and beyond. The initiative has already collected over 300,000 ballot signatures, and the rally was a successful effort to raise awareness. Despite the overcast weather, an estimated 2,500 people showed up to participate and express concerns about the recent abortion restrictions in Arizona and nationally.

photograph of the National Women's March held in Phoenix January 2024photo by Chadwick Fowler

Among those people was Bobby Nichols, the chair of Arizona Works Together, another organization supporting the Arizona Abortion Access Act. While Arizona Works Together has collaborated indirectly with the Women’s March, they wanted to be present to show how important collaboration is when there’s such an important common goal at hand.

The rally also served as a safe space to share and connect as a community. Women shared their motivations and personal experiences with abortion on stage, through chants, and on their protest signs. Women of all ages, including children, senior citizens, and men, marched for themselves and the women in their families and rallied the community to vote. They collectively made the argument that the battle is at the ballot box, and it’s in the hands of the community to make a change.

The Latine community, in particular, is an essential part of winning that ballot, and this rally proved that they’re very involved in the efforts. The presence of Latinas, not only as speakers in the rally but also as participants, was overwhelming. They came together with a clear mission: to inspire other Latinas to vote for a better future.

photograph of the National Women's March held in Phoenix January 2024photo by Chadwick Fowler

The sentiment that dominated the Arizona Capitol during the National Women’s March was one of commitment and resilience. The Latine community is no stranger to fighting for their rights, and they showed up to defend women’s body autonomy and inspire the community to do the same.

As the 2024 elections draw closer, everyone’s efforts are ramping up. From this Women’s March alone, it’s clear that abortion rights are relevant to all and is an issue that inspires action. The conservative wing of the United States Supreme Court and the Republican party are clearly at odds with the majority of Americans. Ballot measures protecting abortions are continuously winning - even in Republican-majority states.

In a state where nearly half of the population is Latino, this community is raising their collective voice and making headway for themselves and future generations.

Graphic design featuring Latine food dish photos overlaid on a world map

Food is much more than the substance that feeds us. It is a living narrative that threads cultures, migrations, exchanges, memories, and emotions. Every bite we take is packed with stories; every smell we perceive evokes memories. I am convinced that when food comes into our lives and into our mouths, it permeates who we are, it stays living in our memory and, without us realizing it, it joins the whole that defines us.

If I had to describe who I am through food, I would present myself as a freshly blended papaya juice, a fruit that I did not feel particularly fond of in my childhood, a tropical fruit, always in season, always at a good price, always available in the refrigerator at home, a recollection of sunny and calm mornings, without grown-up worries. Or maybe I would present myself as the wheat flour arepas that my grandma Rosita used to make in that city, surrounded by mountains that now feel so far away.

These are not simple meals, nor is their choice random. They are fragments of my childhood, often taken for granted, pieces of the puzzle that build me. I spent years with my grandma, learning not only to cook but also to live. When I left her home, in search of a better life thousands of kilometers to the south, those meals that no longer nourished my body, did nourish my memory and my heart.

A few years after leaving Venezuela, I found myself one morning with a glass of freshly blended papaya juice. I did not expect the impact; the rush of emotion was overwhelming, and I found myself carried away by its force. I went back in an instant to my grandma’s home. At that moment, I was sure: certain foods are time machines, and their taste and scent take you away.

But what would happen if we delved deeper into the symbols and stories behind each dish? We could discover the profound family history of a friend who was born in another corner of the world, or that the flavor of a mole carries with it centuries of Mexican history. Even a humble chicken soup can be a reminder of the care and love your mom gave you that time the flu got the better of you.

If our lives were narrated through food, what dishes would we choose to represent us? What stories would those flavors and scents tell?

Migrating is not just leaving, it is also arriving. With that arrival comes the experience of everything anew. For me, food is a fundamental pillar in the experience of being alive. Perhaps this perception is influenced by my moon in Taurus – in astrology, this signifies a deep appreciation for the pleasures and comforts of life, like good food. Or, it could simply be because I heard countless times while growing up that 'it's cheaper to clothe me than to feed me.

The truth is that when you emigrate, the doors are opened to new foods and stories that sneak in and begin to become part of you. They come to stay, they settle in, and the idea of the home you once had is nourished and grows with new flavors, new fruits, and new narratives.

It is almost miraculous to be sitting in front of a dish that was once merged into the shaping of my identity. Whether it's a dish prepared by a loved one, by myself, or by a new person in the land I am beginning to call home, eating that dish goes far beyond mere survival; it is an act that threads the past with the present, a constant dialogue between who I was and who I am at this exact moment.