McALLEN — Forty-five years after the Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion access continues to be a contentious issue.
On Saturday, the divisions were apparent with anti-abortion marchers gathered under a white tent next to St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church and pro-abortion rights supporters assembled several blocks away outside the Whole Woman’s Health clinic, the only abortion provider in South Texas.
The landmark Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, affirming the constitutional right of women to make her own personal medical decisions, including the decision to have an abortion.
Angela Peña, of Weslaco, was among those gathered at the Catholic church. She is against abortion and said it should not be an option.
“There have been too many abuses under the guise that abortion is legal and too many travesties happening — the trafficking of fetuses and those things are unconscionable,” Peña said. “If we have movements to save baby whales, save turtles, then why can’t we save our own human race.”
As a mother and a grandmother, she said she wants to pass on the value of protecting life to the next generation.
“There’s adoption and so many different alternatives,” Peña said. “There’s so many people that can’t have babies, but wish they could have babies. … There’s always people willing to help, is what I learned being in this movement.”
After gathering at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, the anti-abortion group made their way through the streets to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, passing by the Whole Woman’s Health facility.
Outside the clinic, the anti-abortion group stood together, rosaries in hand, praying. They displayed crucifixes and carried images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and signs that read: “Abortion! The Ultimate Child Abuse” and “Take My Hand, Not My Life.”
Abortion rights supporters stood together across from the anti-abortion marchers with their own signs,
“Abortion Rocks!” and “Abortion is not a dirty word.”
The brief confrontation between the groups was verbal, with both sides articulating their stances and standing their ground.
Giovanni Alaniz, of Mission, was with the pro-abortion rights group and said the reason he was protesting was to preserve rights.
“I feel like everyone should have the right to an abortion — a safe abortion,” Alaniz said.
“Abortions are always going to happen,” he added. “It’s a matter of: are they going to be safe abortions or out on the street — abortions, where you can risk death for both.”
Alaniz said he respects anti-abortion group’s right to their religious beliefs, but “it’s not an OK thing to want to impress those beliefs on other people.”
The local March for Life was held in conjunction with the national The March for Life protest which was held Friday in Washington, D.C. and commemorates the landmark ruling.