Abortion Rights Rally Speech
Upper Valley DSA
May 15, 2022
Delivered by an active organizer at a rally in Hanover on Wednesday May 11th.
I, like many of you, was both devastated and unsurprised about the Roe leak. We’ve watched reproductive rights erode in front of our very eyes across our lifetimes. Yes, we’ve seen the Republicans stack the courts and harass people outside of abortion clinics. But we’ve also watched President Bill Clinton renew the racist, sexist Hyde Amendment that denies federal funds for poor people seeking to exercise their reproductive rights, we’ve watched as the “Hope and Change” president Barack Obama signed an executive order upholding the principles of the Hyde Amendment and working with anti-choice Democrats to strip the Affordable Care Act of assured abortion coverage, and we’re now watching Joe Biden lacking the courage and political will to repeal it despite all his campaign promises.
Across 30 years, we’ve watched three elected Democratic presidents—2 of whom I’ll add who have been credibly accused of sexual assault by multiple women—have been politically impotent on this issue. The so-called “left party” in this country is willing to force Americans to bear children in an effort to reach across the aisle because they don’t actually give a shit if it bankrupts us or depletes our spirits.
So in addition to being devastated, I’m also fucking angry. Because how many times does this country and our institutions have to reinforce that they don’t care about our bodily autonomy?? Especially the bodies of poor, queer, trans, Black, and brown people.
And this isn’t just at the national level. Let’s look at Dartmouth. The word “abortion” hasn’t passed Phil Hanlon’s lips, just as it hasn’t left Joe Biden’s. There has been zero assurance that this school will fight for our students to be able to access abortions in New Hampshire—or safely transport someplace they can get one. Our healthcare and wellbeing has never been a priority of this school.
I’m a graduate student worker here making barely $30,000 a year. I’m 29 years old—I’m meeting my best friend’s newborn baby this weekend and I know it's a reasonable time of life to have a baby myself. But I can’t make that choice because making that choice would financially devastate me. Child care in New Hampshire adds up to more than I make a year. And of course Dartmouth doesn’t dare dip into its $8.5 billion endowment to provide free or affordable child care for its students. Reproductive justice is about a spectrum: choosing to have a child or to not have one. Dartmouth fails us no matter what we choose.
I’m angry, but I don’t feel hopeless. As my rights have been stripped away, I’ve drawn inspiration from the thriving labor movement happening in the US right now. Starbucks, Amazon, the inspiring undergraduate dining workers at Student Worker Collective right here at Dartmouth, grad workers at Columbia and Harvard, and many more are coming together to demand better working conditions, higher pay, and benefits that would allow them to have a flourishing life—with a family or otherwise. Abortion rights are workers’ rights. And what we’re seeing is that workers’ collective action and grassroots mass mobilizing is winning—we can take power into our own hands instead of relying on lame political parties and bloated administrations who are too weak to even say the word “abortion.”
I have no faith in institutions, but I have faith in the people. I’ve been assaulted by people on this campus and felt unseen by this administration. I have felt ignored by Dartmouth and like my quality of life is a side issue. But you all see me and I see you. Let’s fight for each other and build the community we all deserve.