Despite rain, a small group met at the Edwardsville Courthouse and marched through downtown Edwardsville in solidarity with Women’s Marches around the country on Oct. 2 in response to recent abortion restrictions in Texas.
Emily Gaither, organizer of the march, said she thought Edwardsville already had a march planned. When she realized there was no march planned, she registered the march herself online through the national Women’s March.
“It didn’t appear that anyone else was really going to do much, and it’s something that’s really important to me, so that’s what prompted me starting it and organizing it and everything,” Gaither said.
Gaither said she wanted to see a bunch of women, and even men, show solidarity for women’s rights. She said that alongside marches being held all over the country, she hopes they can get the government to realize they’re overstepping their boundaries when they try to control what women do with their bodies.
“It’s obviously mostly geared toward women and abortions, and with that being said, I am personally pro-choice. I could never do an abortion myself, I have four beautiful kids, but I don’t think anybody has the right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do,” Gaither said. “The ultimate goal is to hopefully stop the government from overreaching.”
Gaither said she wants women to be able to make their own decisions.
“The goal is that maybe not for my generation, but because I do have three daughters, that they won’t have to hopefully fight as hard as my generation and generations older than me have had to fight for our rights,” Gaither said.
Sue Pate, an SIUE alumna from St. Louis said she attended the march because she believes she has the right to make the choice about what happens to her body, except in cases of contagious diseases.
“I just want to express my feelings and I don’t want to see a [Handmaid]’s Tale. When I first started at SIU, lo these many decades ago, I couldn’t even get a credit card, a bank account on my own, because women couldn’t,” Pate said. “So we’ve come a long way and I don’t want to lose any of that forward progress.”
Gaither’s daughter Annie, a student at Liberty Middle School, said she wants all people to be treated equally, including their bodies.
“We’re here to show the government that women’s rights are human rights, and that they should not make decisions for us,” Annie said.
Gerry O’Brien, a professor in the department of social work at SIUE, said he attended the march because he believes it’s important to fight for social justice, and that reproductive rights are the major social justice issue currently.
“The pro-life movement used to be much more social justice oriented,” O’Brien said. “But now it’s just about pro-life and I think that a lot of the social justice oriented pro-lifers have left the movement because it’s become so nasty and I think those who are left, many of them are just being used by conservatives for political purposes.”
Gaither’s husband John said he attended the march because he wanted to support his wife and the cause. He said he hoped to raise awareness, and wished the march could do more to create change.
“I’m very proud of my wife. I will support her every time she does this,” John Gaither said.