SAN ANGELO, TX –– Even with a rainy morning and overcast skies, San Angeloans gathered downtown to participate in the local Women's March on Saturday. Across the country, Americans gathered to support women's rights in different events.
Dozens and dozens of residents marched around the Tom Green County courthouse to make their voices heard as San Angelo may face the possibility of becoming a sanctuary city for the unborn.
"If you are going to be sitting back and not talking ––you are just as guilty as those oppressors trying to put a ban on women's bodies," said the first speaker of the day. "Beliefs are fine and dandy, and like you, I have my own. But your beliefs shouldn't determine what someone does or doesn't do with their bodies. We have the right to our sexual freedom and our bodies just as men do. It's my body, it's my choice."
The crowd was filled with individuals of all ages that came to show their support for a women's right to choose and giving people access to reproductive healthcare on the courthouse steps.
One of the speakers shared her personal story as a mother of two. She told the crowd about her experience of having her son at 18 and having the opportunity to choose what was best for her.
"Both of my children are two separate reasons of why I stand here today to support the right of women to choose what happens to their bodies. The right to bodily autonomy –– which is a simple right that every person should have available to them," she shared. "I was 18 when I conceived him and 19 when he was born. We had sex ed in school, but it talked more about the moral obligations of sex and less about the sex education itself."
According to the Texas Education Code §28.004 -- if a school decides to teach "any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality," then teachers must "present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age," and "devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior."
According to the CDC, in 2019, Texas had the 9th highest teen birthrate in the county –– with 24 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19.
In the case that schools opt to teach students about contraception and condoms, they must teach the subject in "terms of human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates."
"I found out at almost ten weeks pregnant with what would be my 11-year-old son. I was terrified, and I didn't know what to do," she continued. "I thought about abortion, adoption, and I didn't know what to do. At that point, I decided I was going to keep this thing growing inside me. I chose my son, and that's what makes him so amazing ––such an incredible part of my life is because I chose for him to be there."
Speakers and organizers urged those present at the march to remain civically engaged and make their voices heard as the city council is set to meet with attorneys during the closed session next week to discuss the issues.
Advocates for the measure are asking the city council to approve the measure as an ordinance directly –– without waiting to put it on the ballot.
During previous city council meetings, Mayor Brenda Gunter stated San Angelo could follow in the steps of the City of Lubbock–– which put the measure on the ballot and passed the ordinance with more than 60 percent of the vote.