Iowa City Women’s March protests Texas abortion laws, joining nationwide movement

A grassroots-organized pro-choice march turned up a few dozen protestors who gave speeches on why fighting for access to abortion is an important medical issue.


Cecilia Shearon

Participants of a women’s march congregate in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. The marchers encountered both street preachers and members of the Iowa City community celebrating Pride during the route.

Meg Doster, News Reporter

Demonstrators chanted “My body, my choice” Saturday afternoon, along with thousands across the country who joined Women’s March rallies.

Pro-abortion rights protesters marched from the Iowa City Ped Mall to the Old Capitol building to protect legislation passed in Texas that outlaws abortion after six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

The march was organized by Iowa City resident Laura Rooth. It drew in a few dozen protesters, and they were met with support from passersby.

“I’ve been involved in reproductive issues since I was a teenager, and Planned Parenthood was looking for somebody to organize the march locally so I signed up,” Rooth said. “I’m not affiliated with them, I’m just a supporter.”

Rooth said she is not affiliated with any organization, and that she planned the march by posting about it on Facebook.

Cecilia Norris, a family care physician in Iowa City, was one of the protesters at the march Saturday.

“I have been working my entire career to decrease abortion, but I have done that because no woman wants an abortion,” Norris said in her speech on the Pedestrian Mall. “In my 28 years practicing medicine, and talking to women about why they are pregnant and what their options are, and how they make their choices or decisions, not a single one of them has said ‘Oh yeah, I decided I wanted to go out and get pregnant just so I can get a humiliating, costly medical procedure.’”

Norris said the only way to prevent people from getting abortions is to increase access to contraceptives and argued that illegalizing abortions doesn’t stop them from happening.

During her speech at the beginning of the protest, Rooth said that if no one had shown up Saturday, she would have gone to the Emma Goldman Clinic and donated money.

Liv Jackson, a high school student, said they marched Saturday to support people’s rights.

“It’s not just women who get abortions, people who are in between or identify as men, who also get abortions,” Jackson said. “We’re here to support them.”

Jackson said they believe abortion is a health care issue and restricting access to abortions is denying someone basic health care.

During the march back to the Ped Mall, protesters walked through the Iowa City Pride festival and were greeted with loud cheers.

Rooth said the protest’s main goal regarding abortion is to get Gov. Kim Reynolds, and senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst out of office.

“What happened in Texas and what’s happening in our country is terrible,” Paige Martino, a pro-abortion rights protester, said.

Martino said the decision to terminate a pregnancy should only be between the person seeking medical care and their health care provider.

“I love seeing their younger people here, and girls who have the ability to be empowered and have control over their own bodies,” Martino said. “Women’s rights are human rights.”