WACO, Texas — On a drizzly Friday in downtown Waco at Indian Spring Park, one woman’s thoughts were on what would happen in the same spot on Saturday.
“If women don’t have a choice over their body, we’re not free. Period,” said Lilu Uptmore.
Uptmore is helping organize the March for Reproductive Freedom slated for noon at the park. Hundreds are expected to protest Texas’ recently enacted so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which revamps the state’s abortion laws.
For the 36-year-old mother of three, the demonstration and the law are intensely personal.
“It was over 20 years ago. I don’t talk about it but it still does this,” she said, fighting back tears.
As a teen, Uptomore says she was sexually assaulted, which led to an unwanted pregnancy. She made the grueling decision to end the pregnancy after talking to family, friends and counselors.
“It was crushing. It’s emotional for many reasons… being a victim myself,” she said.
Under Senate Bill 8, Uptomore wouldn’t have been able to have an abortion once a heartbeat was detected, which is typically at the six to seven week mark. There aren’t even exceptions for cases of incest or rape, something she finds outrageous.
“You feel robbed. And you don’t know what to do. You try to make the best decision,” said Uptmore.
Gov. Greg Abbott and some conservative lawmakers are standing firmly behind the bill, saying it’s necessary to protect the unborn and still allows for a woman’s right to choose.
“It provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to provide an abortion,” Abbott said during a September press conference, before adding that his goal was to eliminate rapes in the state.
Many medical experts have pointed out some women, especially teens, may not even be aware they’re pregnant at the six week point.
In cases of rape, trauma can play a significant factor in deciding what to do at any point, said Uptmore.
Just being a young girl, a teenager […] you don’t really know,” she said.
A slew of legal challenges are already filed against the new law.