Teaching Reproductive Rights

Steve ScarpaOctober 25, 20224min

One-hundred-and-eighteen days after the Supreme Court repealed Roe vs. Wade, a group of Wesleyan faculty and students assembled in Judd Hall for a teach-in focusing on protecting reproductive freedom across the country.

The October 20 event, co-sponsored by Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Wesleyan Reproductive Advocacy and Legislation (WRAL), gave students the opportunity to learn more about abortion access, coalition work around reproductive freedom, and other related issues.

Historically speaking, Connecticut has played an important role in the abortion debate. A 1965 Supreme Court decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, set the legal groundwork for the Roe v. Wade decision. And while Connecticut is one of the leaders in the country in expanding and protecting reproductive freedom, it is not the most open in the Northeast, where abortion is almost completely protected, according to Liz Gustafson, the state director of Pro-Choice Connecticut.

“A threat to reproductive freedom anywhere is a threat to reproductive freedom everywhere,” Gustafson said.

She described the different types of abortion bans across the country – states who kept abortion bans in place in the event of Roe’s overturning; trigger laws that activated as soon as Roe was dismissed by the court; gestational and abortion method bans.

Gustafson said there were a few simple ways for people to get involved in the battle for reproductive rights. Testifying before the state legislature in support of various kinds of reproductive care has been effective, she said. She also urged students to be aware of what resources are available and to learn how to speak about the topic of abortion without stigma. “Every experience and every feeling that someone may have about their abortion is right,” Gustafson said.

Livia Wallick ’20, a board member for the REACH (Reproductive, Equity, Access and Choice) Fund described the important work of abortion funds in assuring reproductive care. “Abortion access is a community responsibility,” Wallick said.

Funds will provide financial and logistical support for people who live in states where abortion care is limited or unavailable. “We have a vision for the world where access to abortion is free from financial and logistical barriers, and stigma, where a person’s ability to direct their own life path is not determined by their identities or circumstances but by their own autonomy and ambitions,” Wallick said.

Sita McGuire ’24, a sociology major, has recently done research on the impact of anti-abortion legislation in the United States and across the globe. “I think it’s really important to intersectionalize conversations around abortion because the main people that are going to be most affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade are Black and brown women,” she said.

Summing up the reason for the event and the intent to have more talks in the future, organizer, professor, and Chair of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Victoria Pitts-Taylor said, “We want to lift one another up, share resources safely, and (discuss) how to show up for one another.