Women’s Resource Center march in Utica


Isabella Hudziak

Jaydy Hernandez holding a sign that says: “Mi mamá me dijo que si tu no tienes una arepa, pues callate la boca. No uterus, no opinion.”

Isabella Hudziak, Managing News Editor

Several advocates from the Women’s Resource Center participated in the Utica Women’s March for Reproductive Rights on Oct. 2, starting at YWCA Mohawk Valley and ending at Planned Parenthood.

Several activist organizations in the Utica area collaborated to create the march, which was one mile and had more than 100 participants. These groups included the Young Women’s Christian Association Mohawk Valley, Planned Parenthood and Indivisible Mohawk Valley.

Utica College Executive Director for International Education Deborah Wilson-Allam is a member of IMV, a grassroots activist organization that started in response to Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

IMV performs advocacy and outreach programs to political representatives, such as Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to bring progressive issues to a government level, Wilson-Allam said.

“[Marches] bring the issues that we care deeply about to the public eye,” said Wilson-Allam about the Utica Women’s March. “So many people are silent about issues they may feel strongly about, but if no one knows they feel strongly about them, there is no pressure on political leaders to represent us the way we want to be represented.”

The fifth Women’s March was dedicated to reproductive rights in response to the the Supreme Court’s rejection of an emergency request to block the Texas abortion ban, according to the official Women’s March website.

On Sept. 1, a Texas law was set in motion that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exception to victims of rape or incest and allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids an abortion, according to NPR. The Texas law creates a conflict with the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.

Utica College student Jessilyn Pereira holding a sign created by Mark Kovacs before the march. (Isabella Hudziak)

Utica Women’s March

The steps behind the YWCA were filled by a sea of signs raised high, proclaiming reproductive justice. The modern architecture of the building reflected the bright sun and the wave of diverse advocates. In order to keep the march safe, several safety coordinators in bright yellow vests helped guide participants.

A wide variety of people marched down Utica sidewalks, including children with their parents and dogs trotting beside owners, to the sound of tambourines and cars honking as they drove by.

The protest filed into Nurses Park, where a pink Planned Parenthood table greeted them and open spots on the green grass to sit to hear remarks from locals.

Local politicians, religious figures and students were invited to speak.

Pediatrician Dr. Emmie Pizarro Davis, who played the tambourine during the march, referenced the joint statement made on Sept. 1 by more than 38 medical organizations in support of abortion access.

“Our organizations, which represent nearly 600,000 physicians and medical students, strongly oppose any laws and regulations that interfere in the confidential relationship between patient and their physician,” according to the joint statement.

Pizarro spoke about her role as a pediatrician and how pregnant adolescents should have a choice of what happens to their bodies.

“I am absolutely pro-choice,” Pizarro said. “Whether that girl made a mistake, or was raped, or was molested by a trusted family member or friend, she has realized that she is at a major crossroad in her life. Making sure that adolescents have access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, is the job of the pediatrician.”

Jaydy Hernandez, a criminal justice major at Utica College and administrative intern for the Women’s Resource Center, read a speech during the march.

“It’s time to fight the hardest war ever fought by women because we matter,” said Hernandez, who wore an official Women’s March t-shirt and a Planned Parenthood pin. “We deserve to have a chance. We deserve to have the right to control what happens within our bodies. Women run this world and today’s march demonstrates that.”

From their spot in the grass, members of the WRC cheered and snapped as Hernandez finished. She sat down with her sign written in Spanish with one English phrase: “No Uterus, No Opinion.”

Several local politicians running in the upcoming election also spoke at the event, including Utica Common Council At-Large candidate Sparkle Anthony.

Sparkle Anthony recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month during her speech.

“Let’s rise from those ashes of control and patriarchy,” Anthony said. “Let’s reclaim, restore, and represent our reproductive health. Six weeks is not enough time to show and to know in order to make a life-long decision. We need to provide education and empowerment, not shame and blame.”