"We do not respond to opposition with aggression" could be heard on the megaphone for all to hear before hundreds embarked on a peaceful march for reproductive rights on Sunday morning in Lafayette.

Hannah Guillory was one of the organizers of the "Bans Off Our Bodies" pro-choice march that began just before 10 a.m. in Girard Park.

Bans Off Our Bodies
Bans Off Our Bodies
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Safety was a top priority as the group was set to march through campus and ultimately end up at the intersection of Johnston Street and University.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last week, protests from reproductive rights groups across the country took to the streets to oppose the SCOTUS decision.

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As the crowd of pro-choice advocates marched down the sidewalk in front of Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Guillory noticed a group of men that were positioned in front of the church. She positioned herself between their group and the men to make sure no one engaged.

A powerful photo of Guillory at that very moment is currently going viral on social media.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Cavallaro
Photo courtesy of Jacob Cavallaro
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The photo was taken by local photographer Jacob Cavallaro and has been shared thousands of times on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, the front page of Reddit, and more as protests for reproductive rights continue across America in the wake of the SCOTUS overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Cavallaro said the man was one of "roughly five or six guys defensively guarding the church... one of which was the priest."

This guy kept asking her to get back onto the sidewalk..repeatedly. She was actually very clearly already standing on the sidewalk. I was literally less than 10 feet away and I made it a point to see where her feet were.

There has been much speculation when it comes to the context of the photo, but I personally spoke with Hannah Guillory who told me what happened on that day and at that exact moment when Cavallaro snapped the now-viral photo.

Guillory told me that as she stood on the sidewalk to ensure that protesters with her group passed "safely and peacefully," the man placed his body on hers and ordered that she "leave, keep walking, and step back."

None of the other men stepped in or engaged and neither did Guillory—who says she didn't entertain the man's orders as much as look at him. As the photo caught fire on social media, many users commented on how patient the woman looked in the face of intimidation.

The march continued with no issues and remained peaceful. There were motorists who drove by and honked in support of the reproductive rights group while others gave the middle finger to those participating in the march.

Once the group reached the end point of their march at the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of University and Johnston Street, Guillory says they were welcomed with open hearts and even given permission to safely stand on their lawn if needed.

Guillory told me that she understands that abortion is an "extremely complex and unjust social construct," but also believes that it can't be "put into a little box with a bow called 'pro-life'" at the "mercy of minorities and impoverished people" while "ignoring facts and advice from medical professionals."

The overturning of Roe was the tipping point when they actually stripped us of rights over our own bodies. They’ve made a statement loud and clear that their agenda is more important than any human life. However, abortion care has not been widely accessible in LA in my lifetime. Black and brown people, the lower and middle class, and others have not had access to the medical care they need and this only makes it near impossible to assist the masses. This fight does not stop when they reinstate the protections of Roe, we must have access to essential health care for everyone which includes abortion care.

Louisiana is one of the states that immediately banned abortions once the decision on overturning Roe v. Wade came down due to the trigger law that has been in place for years.

Yesterday, a New Orleans judge temporarily blocked the ban on abortions in Louisiana for the time being, but the fight over this issue is far from over.

Overall, Louisiana is a conservative state with a large Catholic population—especially in Lafayette and surrounding areas of Acadiana where nearly 50% of the residents practice catholicism. But to be fair, not everyone who is pro-birth is conservative Catholic and not everyone who believes in reproductive rights is liberal or non-Catholic.

Twitter
Twitter
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Like Guillory said earlier, this is a very complex issue (and has been for quite some time now) but until all sides learn to respond to opposition with respectful dialogue and not aggression, the journey to a solution will be a challenge.

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