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San Marcos abortion activists lend a helping hand to the community

Texas+State+graduate+student+Abagail+Milam+speaks+at+the+Texas+State+Walkout+Rally+next+to+Texas+States+Youth+Democratic+Socialists+of+America%2C+Thursday%2C%26%23160%3Bon+Aug.+25%2C+2022%2C+on+The+Quad.

Texas State graduate student Abagail Milam speaks at the Texas State Walkout Rally next to Texas State’s Youth Democratic Socialists of America, Thursday, on Aug. 25, 2022, on The Quad.

In May, when the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion was leaked keep the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, Texas State graduate student Abagail Milam believed it was her time to take a stand.
On May 14, Milam established the San Marcos Abortion Activists, a local grassroots organization dedicated to advocating for abortion rights. Milam, who is currently a part of the Texas State Masters of Rhetoric and Composition program, understands the power of starting small while still remaining effective, if not more effective than larger organizations.
“I think having my studies and experiences at Texas State have really helped me understand exactly how to start fighting this fight or how to join this fight,” Milam said. “I firmly believe that grassroots organizing is the way to go. I don’t think big companies and politicians are going to bail us out of this one, but in a fortunate sense, we do live under a republic that does allow us to really take power into our own hands to make our own organizations and strategize our own efforts.”
Milam thinks that having an abortion should always be a choice. The organization is currently taking product donations of pads, tampons, heating pads, condoms and more to soon start a Mutual Aid Network for the San Marcos community.
One of the activists in the organization is Samantha Benavides, a public administration alumna and the communications director for Mano Amiga, a local social justice organization. To follow the mission of Mano Amiga, Benavides hopes to advocate for the decriminalization of abortion and justice in reproductive healthcare.
In a past relationship, Benavides unexpectedly became pregnant and knew she wanted an abortion. Along with emphasizing the need to validate every abortion story, Benavides helped Milam with planning the Mutual Aid Network with her own abortion experience.
“Abby was planning on doing a kit for people who just received reproductive healthcare, so I gave her some input and told her the things that I would have appreciated during or immediately following my abortion,” Benavides said. “I think it was really thoughtful of her to reach out to people who have actually experienced abortion to consider what others would want and need. It’s very thoughtful and it makes her even more informed when creating this program.”
Ella Kriegel, an acting sophomore, is not part of the organization but believes that the San Marcos Abortion Activists are making the right choice by providing mutual aid to a community that serves college students.
“I think it’s really great to have an organization that provides aid,” Kriegel said. “Even if students don’t take anything from it, they will know that it’s there and that they are supported, which is arguably even more important.”
To continue advocating for abortion, the San Marcos Abortion Activists have conducted a total of three rallies. The first rally took place days after the Dobbs v. Jackson opinion was leaked in May. The second was a couple of days after Roe v. Wade was officially overturned in late June and the most recent one was a student walkout rally at Texas State on Aug. 25.
Although Milam is happy to organize rallies for the San Marcos community, she hopes that the organization is able to send a bigger message to the community. At the end of the day, she hopes that as time goes on and changes become apparent, rallies for abortion rights will not be necessary.
“I think it’s really important to understand that with rallies, it’s really easy to get out there and do a day of activism, but really rallies should be enabling people to join grassroots movements to advocate for broader change beyond that day and rally,” Milam said. “I think what we’ve seen a lot is people reacting to news instead of being proactive about the changing part. That’s one thing that we hopefully can concentrate these efforts on anactually see results and change.”
Since starting the organization, the San Marcos Abortion Activists have advocated for the Guarding the Right for Abortion Care for Everyone (GRACE) Act in San Marcos by talking to city council members and attaining a policy recommendation. To make it an official policy, a petition is required which Milam plans to do.
Although it’s just the beginning for the San Marcos Abortion Activists, Milam has been satisfied with the outcomes of each rally, with crowds of over 200, and the involvement that Texas State students, who make up about half of that crowd, have committed to the organization.
“We had Texas State students advocating for the GRACE Act at city council and they have come to every one of our rallies,” Milam said. “I think what’s really beautiful is just how the Texas State community is sort of a transient community that can sort of pull up and helps with the San Marcos community.”
Ethen Penawho earned his master’s degree in history from Texas State, is another activist in the organization. He attended a reproductive and women’s safety rally in Kingsville, Texas, and wanted to also show up for abortion rights in San Marcos.
Pena has shown his support for the San Marcos Abortion Activists by organizing events and helping Milam at rallies. He said he has enjoyed seeing older people in the San Marcos community taking a stand for abortion rights, some of them for a second time.
“In our rallies we’ve had elderly people. Whether it was their first time they had protested ever or if they decided to come together in solidarity to express their dissatisfaction either ever or since the last time abortion rights were in danger back in the 70s,” Pena said. “That was a great thing for me to see though because it really inspired me to keep working at it.”
The organization is at constant risk of encountering backlash from misinformation and stigmas around abortion. Milam, who has family members who believe in the anti-abortion movement, has had her fair share of encountering misinformation by hearing assumptions, and that emergency contraceptives and birth control pills are abortion. She wishes for better education all around.
Even with the risk, Pena encourages the San Marcos community and Texas State students to become involved in advocating for reproductive healthcare.
“Bringing people together and [building] that human power is my ultimate goal,” Pena said. “Do what you can to contribute in some way. Everybody has something to offer in this struggle, and we should all be a part of this in some way.”
To learn more about the San Marcos Abortion activist organization, visit @smabortionactivists on Instagram. 

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