Yoder helps organize march through downtown in support of Roe v. Wade


Madison Horneber

Students and community members gather around city hall to protest the recent actions against the court case Roe v. Wade.

Lucia Gabel, Editor-in-Chief

Following the release of documents leaking the decision of the current court case under fire, Roe v. Wade, citizens across the country once again looked to their fundamental right to protest, with hopes to increase pressure on the Supreme Court Justices. With pink painted posters in hand, students and members of the Harrisonburg community marched from the James Madison University (JMU) Quad to the downtown courthouse. Rising junior and president of the JMU Democrats, Gia Yoder, worked to organize the event along with other JMU students. 

“[It’s essential to] recognize the importance of bodily autonomy and the right of every person to choose. Roe was originally decided based on the right to privacy and I believe everyone has the right to medical privacy,” Yoder said. 

Yoder feels passionate that the consequences of abolishing Roe v. Wade could affect not only those who are directly involved, but they could serve as a catalyst for other complications within the realm of contraceptives.  

“We’ve seen [certain] Republican senators saying that we should make birth control only legal for married couples or we’ve seen attempts to criminalize the use of IUDs,” Yoder said. “I think people who may consider themselves pro-life need to consider that one. It doesn’t stop here and this decision can easily impact them.”

As a supporter of upholding precedent, Yoder does not want  everyone to agree on the issue, but simply for everyone to consider the gravity of the situation. 

“People really just need to think about the fact that you don’t need to like abortion to respect everyone’s right to choose to have one,” Yoder said.

Within these people, Yoder calls on her government leaders to uphold their current decision on Roe v. Wade. 

“I do believe that it is the duty of our legislatures to keep up with their promises of protecting Roe and to act on what the majority of constituents want,” Yoder said. “Congress should really be working to codify Roe v. Wade.”

On a smaller scale, Yoder worries what could happen in her hometown in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

“The Senate in the General Assembly is currently democratically [led] and will likely not accept any legislation to criminalize abortion. But next year there are elections for the Senate and the House in Virginia. I don’t know if people are aware of how important it is that next year [democrats] hold the Senate, so people aren’t criminals for having reproductive health care, [like abortions], in Virginia,” Yoder said. 

As she sees her society divide more and more on issues such as abortion, Yoder finds this specific situation to be a direct representation of how leaders can rally a group to create strength through numbers.

“This is a perfect example of the power of organizing your base and politicians working to give their base what they tell them they’re going to give. It seems like there isn’t or hasn’t been that same passion to ensure that Roe is [codified] into law and that abortion is protected,” Yoder said. 

I don’t think people can even fully comprehend what a reversal of this decision will bring in terms of suffering, pain and bringing children into the world that may not have the quality of life that is necessary for them to thrive and really live a good life.

— Gia Yoder

The issue of reproductive healthcare hits close to home for Yoder, as she is affected by her mom’s story and knows how impactful it can be. 

“My mother, after she had me, wanted to have her tubes tied and was not allowed to by doctors despite asking for it. Despite the fact that she had had a pretty dramatic pregnancy, she had gestational diabetes and was very sick, she still was not allowed to make that decision for herself that she was done having children,” Yoder said. “I think that’s just one example of why it’s so important that we not only protect abortion rights, but we make sure that we don’t start to go backwards and that we continue to progress.” 

Her mom’s story is just the beginning of real life situations that Yoder has seen. In the college setting, she finds that many people can connect on this matter. 

“A lot of people do know someone who’s had an abortion. [It could be] one of their friends or family members or someone who’s been impacted by anti-reproductive legislation. I think even the people who may not know somebody, have heard the horror stories, especially of how the country used to be pre-Roe v. Wade,” Yoder said. “I don’t think people can even fully comprehend what a reversal of this decision will bring in terms of suffering, pain and bringing children into the world that may not have the quality of life that is necessary for them to thrive and really live a good life.”  

As she continues her fight, Yoder hopes to emphasize the gravity of what the overturn of this case will bring. 

“The big thing in my mind is you can’t ban abortion in a country that has no regulated paid maternal leave, has insanely expensive healthcare, doesn’t have access to contraceptives in the ways other places do and doesn’t have good sex education nationwide,” Yoder said. “It’s ridiculous to think that it would be possible to ban abortion in a nation that makes it so difficult for people to be parents and continue to work and to afford their bills to take care of themselves and any other children they may have. So really, if you are against abortion, you should be fighting to improve those conditions, but you shouldn’t be taking away that choice from people.”