This past Saturday afternoon, a large crowd gathered in front of Willard Straight Hall erupted into applause as the words “nobody’s most personal medical decisions should be controlled by politicians, neighbors, complete strangers or anyone else” rang out.
On Oct. 2, Cornell’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action helped organize the Ithaca Rally for Reproductive Rights on Ho Plaza in response to the recent Texas abortion bill which outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The rally drew a diverse crowd, composed of Cornell and Ithaca College students and faculty, local residents and others from across New York State.
“I think we are one of over 500 [marches], so Oct. 2nd is a big day for abortion access protests and rallies,” said Presley Church ’24.
The speaker lineup for the rally included a range of students, professionals and representatives including assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-125), Prof. Zillah Eisenstein, politics, Ithaca College, and Krista Ochoa, grad, a student from Texas.
“I think it’s really important to show that this is something that people care about,” Helena Brittain ’22 said.
Helena, like other Cornell students, came to the march in order to express her frustration about the recent Texas abortion ban, which she noted “disproportionately impacts people from low-income backgrounds, people of color and young people.”
In addition to the students that filled Ho Plaza, groups of Ithaca residents attended, brandishing signs with slogans like “bans off our bodies” to show their support for the movement.
Among these residents was Joan Adler ’71, a Cornell alumna and former Planned Parenthood employee who has lived in Ithaca for most of her life. She was at the protest because of her experiences working for Planned Parenthood and watching her friends navigate getting abortions.
“I came of age in an era before Roe V. Wade made abortion legal and I have friends that had illegal abortions; they were harrowing experiences,” Adler said. “It’s just horrifying to think that in Texas right now, women are going to be desperate enough that they may once again seek out and have that kind of black market experience, which is so incredibly traumatic in itself.”
Adler hoped that support for the rally could help reduce stigma against Planned Parenthood, where she worked up until last year.
“Planned Parenthood is a gynecological service. It provides all kinds of logical care for women, including abortions, both surgical and through medication. We also have transgender services and very full STI services. It’s a judgment free zone. It’s very loving, it’s very respectful,” Adler said.
Local psychotherapist Yvonne Fischer noted that the march was predominantly women — which she hopes will change in the future.
“I’ve been doing this for 50 years and it’s enough already. It’s just been an outrage,” Fischer said. “We have fought and won, and now we’re still having to fight. This is not just a woman’s issue.”