At 15, Andrea Lipomi found herself pregnant and --- she thought --- alone.
"As a depressed suburban teenager with very religious parents, I figured the best thing to do would be to take matters into my own hands," she says. "So I basically stopped eating for over two months, hoping that my body couldn't sustain the life of a fetus."
Now 25, Lipomi owes her life, she says, to her parents and to the US Supreme Court. In 1973, the court legalized abortion in the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
"I strongly feel that I would not be here if that option had not been made available to me," she says. "I seriously think I would have committed suicide before I even started to show, honestly."
That's why she will march.
On April 25, Lipomi will join hundreds of thousands of people in Washington, DC, for the March for Women's Lives. The march is sponsored by the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood.
"Reproductive freedom is at stake, more so than at any time since before 1973," says Shelley Page, regional manager for marketing and communications with Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse region. "These are times when we need to be sure that the public understands what's at stake. This is one way of demonstrating to not only all of the politicians in Washington, but to the nation as a whole, that we don't want to go back to the days before Roe v. Wade."
The South Dakota legislature's vote to ban abortion in almost every case, the Partial-Birth Abortion Act, John Ashcroft's attempt to get his hands on abortion records, and the razor-thin pro-choice majority on the US Supreme Court are just some of the reasons why, Page says, the need to defend reproductive rights is greater than ever before.
"Those kinds of things are popping up all over the country," she says. "It's very scary."
A similar march was held in 1992. Approximately 750,000 people showed up. The sponsors of the upcoming march are aiming for one million.
"There's a lot of buzz around this march around the country," Page says. "It will be a very major march."
The march starts at 10 a.m. on April 25, but there are events --- workshops, concerts, lectures --- in the Washington area in the days leading up to the march itself.
Both Page and Marsha Peone --- president of the local NOW chapter --- will be marching with their daughters.
"I think it's going to start to plug her into the bigger picture of what life is like for a lot of women in America," says Peone, of her daughter, Tricia, 22. "She has an awareness, but it's more intellectual at this point. I think that she's going to see and meet people that are going to give her a more personal connection to the issues."
Reproductive freedom, Marsha Peone says, is about women having power and control over their own bodies.
"I just feel so strongly that women have the right to determine the course of their own lives," she says. "We have the right to be private and safe inside our own skin."
Lipomi has never regretted having the abortion, she says. Going through that experience has given her passion about reproductive rights and, she says, anger "when government officials and people who biologically can never be in that situation... call the shots when they have no concept."
Page is expecting hundreds associated with her organization to join the march. Peone expects dozens.
The Rev. Mike Warren, of the anti-abortion group Rescue Rochester, says he's not aware of any counter protest plans from the local community.
"I don't get energized counter-protesting what I would look at as a death march," he says. "I think it's ironic that they're marching for women's reproductive health when so many little baby girls are killed through legal abortion."