This silent march believes it’s louder than we think

Students were confused and shocked when an anti-abortion march showed up on campus. Photo by Hanna Welland | The Signal

Two days before President Trump became the first president to attend an anti-abortion rally, a silent Georgia Right to Life rally marched on Decatur Street on the Downtown campus, leaving much to the surprise of students. Annually, anti-abortion protesters march through downtown Atlanta to mourn the lives of aborted fetuses.

The poster-wielding protesters are not the first to make an appearance on Georgia State’s campus. Last semester, a group called “Created Equal” held signs with graphic images in Unity Plaza. Professors and students were vocal about their disapproval of the group.

The GRTL march commenced right next to the Capitol building. The afternoon began with speeches and prayers. Praise was a critical factor in the march, with God being a common undertone.

Endia Bass, a pre-march speaker, testified her experience with abortions. The mission for this march appeared to focus on the importance of the number of abortions that have already occurred.

Once the crowd of over 1,500 marchers started to walk, the mood was set with an audio recording of an 11-week-old fetus’s heartbeat followed by a trumpet playing the song “Taps,” which is most commonly played at military funerals.

The rally emphasized the statistics of abortions in the U.S. According to the march’s research, there have been 61 million fetuses aborted since 1974, the year Roe v. Wade was decided. But 2019 brought hope for the pro-life group when Gov. Brian Kemp signed the HB 481, also known as the “heartbeat bill.” 

There was an immense backlash nationally against this bill by celebrities and political figures. In her testimony, Bass called out the actors and comedians for the “propaganda” used from their platform.

Although the bill is currently on hold, when passed, it will prevent doctors from performing abortions once the fetus’s heartbeat is detected. For the GRTL group, the passing of this bill would be considered a win for the group. So, why are they still marching?

As the supporters meandered through Atlanta streets heading towards Georgia State’s campus, the attention from city dwellers was scarce until they arrived in Five Points. The march was greeted by regular MARTA commuters and pedestrians. The heckling from a few was expected and warned at the beginning of the march. 

Marchers proudly moved toward Georgia State’s campus, ready to take on whatever the student body would give them. Students welcomed the group, mostly with confusion and a few laughs. 

GRTL spokeswoman Genevieve Wilson hoped the peaceful and silent rally brought awareness to the students.

“I wish there was a way to tell them [students] that this is a memorial instead of a

march,” said Wilson.

Abortion is a familiar controversial topic for Georgia State students, but the division of opinions is not evident. During the march, there were no sightings of a representative for Georgia State. Most students stood to watch, but none actually joined. Sophomore Sofia Moin did not expect to see a pro-abortion march on a Wednesday afternoon.

“I am pro-choice, but it is nice to see people stand up for something they care about,” said Moin. “I also hope that they are doing their own research into everything that’s happening.”

For the GRTL group, 2019 brought shocking statistics: The national abortion rate has decreased overall, but Georgia’s increased. Wilson and the rest of the program were disappointed in the lack of progress the state has made. Therefore, they continue their march to spread awareness.

Yet the overall consensus for students was how shocked and confused they were about the signs. Seniors Natalie Drag and Melissa White wanted more information on the accuracy of the signs.

“They say that most aborted babies are black,” said White. “Where did they get their statistics from?”

Wilson later provided statistics that showed exactly how many patients received abortions and what race the patients were as well. In 2018, the count shows 5,714 patients were white while 15,568 patients were black.

The posters displayed concern for minority groups and fathers with quotes such as “Black Babies Matter” and “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood.” 

“I feel like abortion is a woman’s decision,” said White, “especially if she does not feel like she is ready to have a baby.”

Drag points out that although the rally was not rowdy, the signs were still awful. The GRTL group wanted to encourage students to look at the downside of abortions and the number that has occurred in Georgia this year. 

The majority of the signs pointed at patients of color and fathers as the biggest contribution to why they were marching. Nevertheless, statistics have shown that many of their claims are mostly incorrect.

The “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood” sign displays what seems to be men regretting their partner aborting their child. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in four children live in fatherless homes.

Students watched as a somewhat diverse group of marchers treaded with purpose. The GRTL group walks the same route annually with no intention to walk through Georgia State’s campus. The reactions from students have remained consistent throughout the years.

“First, they are always not sure what we are doing,” said Wilson. “You can see on their faces once they do realize what it is.”

Georgia State’s campus officially promotes freedom of speech and encourages students to speak up for their beliefs, as well as any non-university members to visit campus. But when a group that conflicts with the majority of the student body’s beliefs arrives, some students question if the group is actually showing a moral display.

“The kids are all on the outside, front and back,” said Drag, while watching the marchers, “It’s like they are trying to make it seem a little more personal.”

Considering morality, abortion strikes a hard divide in terms of whether it is right or wrong. As long the controversial heartbeat bill continues to stay on hold, GRTL will continue to hold its rallies to the mild inconvenience of students.