April 26, 2004

Pro-Choice Rally Draws Supporters to D.C.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several hundred Cornell students took part in yesterday’s massive pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C., joining crowds estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands.

Students Acting for Gender Equality, which has been planning the trip since the fall, sold tickets for 85 seats on buses chartered by Planned Parenthood of Tompkins County. Students from Ithaca College also filled a 56-person bus.

“I wanted to have the experience. I wanted to see what it was all about,” said Danielle Binler ’07.

“I decided to go on the spur of the moment … I had a lot of stuff to do, but then I decided that I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t go because this is something really important,” said Katie Rademacher ’07. “Under the current administration a lot of stuff is in jeopardy and I think that it’s the size of the voice that counts.” Cornell organizers were pleased with the level of student participation.

“Cornell was pretty prevalent,” said May Silverstein ’04, co-president of SAGE.

The Planned Parenthood buses left at 1 a.m. yesterday morning and arrived in Washington at 7:30 a.m. Participants gathered for a rally on the National Mall at 10 a.m.

“It was completely invigorating,” Silverstein said. “[The speakers] talked enough to get everyone riled up and wanting more, and then they’d bring in the next speaker.”

“I was encouraged by how many public figures were so forthright about their beliefs,” said Alaina Town ’07, referring to a speaker’s list which included Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem. “I wasn’t expecting the politicians [to be] so forthright. I was glad they were there.”

Other students echoed similar sentiments.

“I think a really inspiring moment was when Hillary Clinton spoke, because she really rallied the audience. It was a good motivator to start off the day,” said Haley Moss ’07. “This is an important issue. I’ve been to other protests but this was a big one at an important time,” she added.

The morning rally was followed by a two-mile march down Pennsylvania Avenue, which at times was met by pro-life counter-protesters. Participants were impressed with the varied crowd which the rally drew.

“There was a lot of diversity along the lines of color, age and sexual orientation,” Silverstein said. “There were people who were close to 70 marching with people who were going on 10. That solidarity really showed as they came across pro-life opposition and the chants became more cohesive.”

“I was really inspired by the speaker who said that a third of all people who showed up were women 18 to 25,” Binler said. “I was inspired because the voting bracket is the lowest for that age group.”

SAGE was not the only student group to organize a trip to the protest, however. Pro-life students also traveled to Washington to express their opposition.

“We had some Cornell American writers go down there … A lot was done by the Cornell Coalition for Life,” said Ryan Horn grad, editor-in-chief of the Cornell American. “I am personally very proud of the Cornell students who went down to counter-protest for this. I think the pro-choice march reveals that the pro-abortion movement is frantic about the losses they have experienced in recent times.” Silverstein, in contrast, said she hopes that “the march serves to re-invigorate people.”

Sun News Editor Jeff Sickelco contributed to this story.

Archived article by Freda Ready
Sun Managing Editor