Like many concerned about what Donald Trump has said about women and his various and changing positions on abortion, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa decided she wanted to take part in the 21 January Women’s March on Washington, protesting the new president on the day after his inauguration as the country’s 45th leader.
She and about 50 others from the New Wave Feminists, a pro-life group against abortion, war, the death penalty and other issues, had planned to join the crowd to make their voices heard and even wanted to be listed as partners in the march’s official roster.
“We were going to send a message that we were going to be holding Trump accountable,” Herndon-De La Rosa said in a 19 January interview with Catholic News Service.
While officials with the Women’s March, a conglomeration of groups dealing with issues ranging from equal pay for women, against sex discrimination and violence against women, said they would march to defend the marginalised, Herndon-De La Rosa said her group felt marginalised after they were accepted, then kicked off the roster of partner organisations, along with other pro-life groups.
No one contacted them to give them the news, she said, but they found out after a flurry of stories announced pro-life groups like hers were taken off the roster as partners by officials. The groups And Then There Were None and Students for Life of America also were denied or taken off the Women’s March roster.
“We don’t want to be opposing the (Women’s March),” Herndon-De La Rosa said. “We’re not trying to make them look bad.”
In fact, many members of New Wave Feminists still plan to participate in the event. Pro-life groups like hers still have legitimate concerns, which they share with others who are marching, Herndon-De La Rosa said.
Trump’s past, which includes periods in which he has said he supported abortion, then said he didn’t, makes the New Wave Feminists, based in Texas, worry. They want to let him know they’ll be watching his position on abortion, on the death penalty, on other issues involving war and violence, she said.
“Information leads us to be he truly doesn’t believe in the value and dignity of all human beings,” Herndon-De La Rosa said.
The Women’s March website lists a “statement of Inclusivity” and says it’s heard about some concerns others have voiced. “We seek to address these divisions and stand together in the face of injustice,” it says. “Together, we will raise our voices in the service of all people.”
In a news release, Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said that while she still plans to attend, organisers have a ways to go when it comes to including all.
“They are excluding the majority of American women who find abortion to be morally wrong and believe in protecting families, defending the marginalised, and achieving social justice,” Hawkins said.
Abby Johnson and her group, And Then There Were None, also said they would still attend.
“To silence our experiences is detrimental to women and our rights,” she said in a statement issued late on 19 January.
The organization of former abortion clinic workers “who can attest to the corruption of the abortion industry” may be seen as “a direct threat” to several of the other march partners, such Planned Parenthood, Johnson added. “But no matter what — we will be there on Saturday morning, making sure that our voices are heard.”
Herndon-De La Rosa said that she can’t be too angry with what happened. All the publicity has helped her group gain more members. She has recently done interviews with the BBC, Rolling Stone magazine and other major media outlets. It has helped advance the Texas-based group’s agenda about a consistent life ethic, she said.