Protest supporting Roe v. Wade takes over campus

May 9, 2022, 12:20 a.m.

Stanford Planned Parenthood held a protest in support of reproductive rights on Friday. The protest brought Stanford students and affiliates together, following the rallies held by Stanford Law School students and Stanford Planned Parenthood and undergraduates earlier in the week. 

On Thursday, Stanford Planned Parenthood announced that a group of students was planning to counter demonstrate the event. Leading up to the rally, both groups chalked their respective messages on White Plaza, using tactics similar to those employed in the undergraduate rally on Tuesday.  

Ryan Miller, a US Marine Corps veteran, came to support the pro-choice rally.

“A lot of veterans fought under the pretext that Afghanistan women were being brutally subjected by a patriarchal society, and so to come back home and that’s the case here on the Homeland is particularly concerning,” said Miller.

A woman holds a coat hanger that has the words "never again" written over it.
A protestor holds up a hanger turned into a sign that says “never again.” The coat hanger is a prominent symbol used by reproductive rights activists to represent those who have died due to unsafe abortions. (BRYAN MONGE SERRANO/The Stanford Daily)

About 250 students, faculty and staff came together to chant and march. Attendees listened to the stories of abortion providers and those who have received abortions. Organizers also spoke about the relationship between the Supreme Court’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the Federalist Society — a conservative organization that advocates for textualist and originalist interpretation of the Constitution — as well as errors with the rationale behind the court’s draft.

Ryan Miller, Marine Corps veteran, stands in front of Stanford Bookstore. He holds a sign that reads "If you don't like abortion, then get a vasectomy."
Ryan Miller, Marine Corps veteran, stands in front of Stanford Bookstore. Miller expressed shock at the Supreme Court’s leaked draft. (BRYAN MONGE SERRANO/The Stanford Daily)

Jacob Neidig ’23 expressed his concerns about the rising presence of pro-life rhetoric on campus. “I fear that there are people on campus that don’t respect women’s rights and don’t respect women as people,” said Neidig.

Kate Shaw, director of gynecology at Stanford, alongside Debbie Bamberger, the first nurse practitioner trained to provide abortion services in California, spoke about their professional experience as abortion providers and personal experiences in reproductive justice. 

Both Shaw and Bamberger emphasized how common the procedure is. “1 in 4 women get an abortion by the time they turn 45,” Shaw said. Shaw left an impression on the crowd when she shared the journey of her gradual realization of the fraught state of abortion rights across the country.

“It wasn’t until I left California to start medical school that the blinders started to come off and I really started to understand the many, many efforts that had been underway for decades, intended to chip away at abortion access, at times subtly,” said Shaw, who studied medicine in New York and completed her residency in Oregon. “The people determined to make abortion illegal and inaccessible have been diligent and persistent.”

Protestors hold signs and march through Main Quad
Protestors march around Main Quad as part of Friday’s pro-choice rally.
(BRYAN MONGE SERRANO/The Stanford Daily)

“We cannot take the right to an abortion for granted any longer,” Shaw continued. “Wake up. Pay attention to what’s happening. Talk about abortion. Take action.”

Bamberger shared how her clinic was bracing for the impact of the imminent overturning of Roe with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and partners in Nevada gearing up to take care of 200 to 400 more patients per week.

Esteban Herrera-Vendrell ’25 stood in the crowd holding his sign up as he listened. “It’s just absolutely ridiculous that people have to be out here debating whether or not women have access to a basic human right, especially on this campus,” said Herrera-Vendrell.

Erin Sifre J.D. ’24, who spoke at the rally, explained the history of the Federalist Society’s influence on the Supreme Court. “Non-law students may wonder how this question came before SCOTUS after nearly half a century of legal precedent,” Sifre said. “This is by no accident — this is part of the Federalist Society’s long-term plan to use so-called constitutional originalism as a tool to overturn fundamental privacy rights, which implicate all Americans.” 

The Federalist Society is closely connected with 5 of the 9 Supreme Court justices and works to identify conservative legal talent and place them in positions of power, according to Vox News

Sifre criticized the complicity of the Stanford Law School’s Federalist Society chapter in the Court’s leaked decision, stating that “Scott Stewart, an SLS alum and member of the Federalist Society, is the solicitor general for Mississippi and argued for the overrun of the law in this case.”

Before and after the protest, Stanford ACLU hosted a table, where attendees wrote letters to representatives urging them to strengthen abortion rights. Their letters specifically targeted New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and Montana. 

“These are four states that don’t have legal protections against abortion, so with the overturn of Roe v. Wade may or may not decide to restrict abortion in their state through their state legislatures,” said Zoe Tweedie ’25 of the Stanford ACLU. 

Ultimately, Hiran Dewar ‘23, the co-president of Stanford Planned Parenthood, said that she is hopeful of student engagement moving forward. According to Dewar, the group will continue working with other student organizations to advocate for reproductive rights.

Bryan Steven Monge Serrano '25 is from Flushing, Queens in New York City. At The Daily, he is a Beat Reporter for News, a columnist for Arts and Life, and staff photographer. Outside of the Daily, he is studying Computer Science + Civil Engineering. He also enjoys listening to R&B and taking public transportation. Contact Bryan Steven Monge Serrano at bryan101 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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