By Lela Johnston, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Intern and NC State University Senior
This week we recognize the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to reproductive choice. Reproductive decisions extend far beyond the doctor’s office. A woman’s right to control her reproductive health is the most basic and critical element of her autonomy. Without this fundamental human right, women’s voices are silenced, their independence is threatened, and ultimately, political, economic, and social gender equality is still just a distant possibility. Forty-two years ago the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. legally recognized my right to control my own body. And while I’m grateful that I have grown up in a post-Roe society, its legal precedent has still yet to be fully transformed into a reality.
Roe’s legal acknowledgement of a woman’s right to choose has not ensured equal access to reproductive healthcare. Since Roe prevents our General Assembly from entirely outlawing abortion, the legislature has instead passed restrictive legislation. These restrictions include requiring women seeking abortion care to undergo distressing mandatory ultrasounds and medically unnecessary laws like dictating the width of a clinic’s door frames. Even here on NC State’s campus, a lack of equal and accurate medical information serves as yet another barrier to a woman’s right to make informed healthcare decisions. Our Women’s Health Center offers information on Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) but limited information on abortion and adoption care. These so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”, masquerading as comprehensive health clinics, often manipulate pregnant women by providing biased and medically inaccurate information on abortion and birth control. Our own Women’s Health Center has pamphlets for CPCs in its waiting room but little information on other reproductive health options.
As a student, as a woman, and as a human being, I deserve better. I deserve to attend a public university that provides comprehensive and factual healthcare information. I deserve to attend a university that respects my reproductive autonomy and my dignity. I deserve to live in a state that allows me to make my own healthcare choices, free from coercion and intrusive regulation. I deserve to attend a university in a state that upholds and protects my right to make the safest and most informed decisions about my own body. Forty-two years after Roe legally established this right, the fight for reproductive justice for all women is not over.
If you are concerned about deceptive advertising on campus that misleads students into believing CPCs offer comprehensive reproductive health care please sign NARAL NC’s petition: bit.ly/StopCPCAds