Roe v. Wade Celebration Week at Davidson College!

by Kristen Sands, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at Davidson College

Hello from Davidson, North Carolina, Kristen Sands here!  To celebrate 45 years of Roe v. Wade, I worked with Planned Parenthood Generation Action campus representatives Caroline Roddey and Emma Granowsky as well as student leaders of the Health Justice Committee Jennie Goodell and Lily Acton, to develop a week of fabulous events sponsored by Shout Your Abortion!  We had the best time getting members of our community together to celebrate the 45th anniversary of abortion legality, learn more about reproductive justice, and come #TogetherForAbortion.

Tatianna runs the thank you card booth for students to send a note of thanks

Tatianna runs the booth for students to send a note to abortion providers and pro-choice advocates in honor of Roe v. Wade!

We kicked off the week with an educational lunch event covering the history of Roe v. Wade, its current place in this political atmosphere and why legality does not mean access.  We discussed barriers to reproductive healthcare that exist for Women of Color, queer and trans folk and other marginalized communities, discussed attacks on Roe, and talked to students about what they could do to support abortion access.

On Wednesday, we took over campus trivia night to ask our fellow students some questions on Roe v. Wade and abortion designed to bust some myths and raise awareness about North Carolina’s abortion laws.  For example, we asked “Does abortion put you at risk for… A) Breast Cancer, B) Chronic Depression, C) Infertility, or D) None of the above?” in order to educate the group that women who get abortions are no more likely to develop depression than women who carry a pregnancy to term, and there is no correlation between breast cancer or infertility and having had an abortion!

Bridget enjoying Shout Your Abortion swag at campus trivia night!

Bridget enjoying Shout Your Abortion swag at campus trivia night!

On Thursday, we were incredibly fortunate to have a number of powerful activists take the time to join us for a panel discussion on Reproductive Justice.  Our professionals in the field were Tara Romano, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, Calla Hales, Director of Administrative Services of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, and Ash Williams, North Carolina Organizer from SisterSong.  Tara, Calla, and Ash built an amazing discussion, helping us understand what Reproductive Justice means, how we can contribute to this work, and how we can center patients and providers in our conversations and activism related to reproductive freedom.

Crowd of students enjoying discussion led by panelists

Students enjoying a discussion led by Ash Williams of Sister Song, Tara Romano of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Calla Hales of A Preferred Women’s Health Choice.

 

Ash Williams, Tara Romano and Calla Hales crafting an impactful discussion on reproductive justice and opportunities for student activism.

Ash Williams, Sister Song, Tara Romano, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Calla Hales, A Preferred Women’s Health Choice.

On Friday, we had a booth open all day for students to write notes of thanks to all the hardworking people who make abortion access possible.  Students loved taking advantage of the opportunity to send a note of gratitude to abortion providers, activists, clinic escorts, and advocacy groups.

Our amazing thank-you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion

Our amazing thank you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion.

Lucy sends a note of thanks

Lucy sends a note of thanks.

The Roe v. Wade Celebration week at Davidson was a huge success and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to bring education, gratitude, and celebration in honor of the 45th anniversary onto my campus.  Our events were well attended by faculty and students alike, and we loved the opportunity to engage in discussions about Reproductive Justice and abortion access, to celebrate the progress that has been made, and to prepare to tackle the challenges that remain.  Thank you NARAL Pro-Choice NC and Shout Your Abortion for making this week possible!

Our amazing thank-you notes designed by student Jennie and awesome swag from Shout Your Abortion 2

Celebrating 45 years of Roe v. Wade!

NARAL Pro-Choice NC Celebrates 45 Years of Roe v. Wade!

by Caitlin Oliver, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Bachelor Of Social Work intern

Barely one week after the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Senate Republicans tried and failed, yet again, to pass a nationwide 20-week abortion ban.  This recent intensified attack on an individual’s bodily autonomy is yet another reminder of the importance of remembering what abortions were like before Roe v. Wade.

On January 23, 2018, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina celebrated the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at The Pinhook with a screening of videos of different abortion stories that featured various women who had abortions before and/or after Roe v. WadeThe PinhookAdditionally, there was a panel discussion with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s Executive Director, Tara Romano, and its Advocacy and Organizing Manager, Lynne Walter.

The abortion stories, produced by Moyers & Company, served as needed reminders of past and present barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care.  For example, one woman spoke of having to leave her home state of Texas in order to receive abortion care because of recent TRAP laws that had closed many Texas clinics.  All of the women in the videos expressed fear that the U.S. will one day return to a time in which abortion is no longer safe and legal.

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been many local, state, and national efforts to restrict abortion.  The January 29th, 2018, vote on a 20-week ban is just one of the latest attempts.  Another example is the federal Hyde Amendment, which was first passed by Congress on September 30, 1976, and impedes access to reproductive health care by blocking insurance providers, like Medicaid, from covering abortions.  In North Carolina, the Hyde Amendment has been used to justify denying insurance coverage of abortion for many North Carolinians, including teachers, members of the military, veterans, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans that utilize the Indian Health Service, people who are incarcerated in federal prisons, North Carolinians who have their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and all federal, state, county, and city employees in North Carolina.

The Hyde Amendment disproportionately restricts access to abortion for people of lower income, people of color, young people, immigrants and those who are undocumented, and transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.  Ultimately, this threat to comprehensive reproductive health care highlights the reality that economic justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ+ equality are all key aspects of reproductive justice, as well as vital components of the overall health of the Durham community.

At the end of the event, participants were encouraged to take action against efforts to restrict abortion access in their local communities!Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 2.47.39 PM

Abortion storytelling as artivism

by Molly Burchins, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at NC State University

This November, as a Campus Leader at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, I received an incredible opportunity to work with Poppy Liu, founder of Collective Sex, and Amelia Bonow, co-founder of #ShoutYourAbortion, on bringing their abortion storytelling program to NC State.  This program was brought to communities and campuses across North Carolina in order to bring abortion out of the political realm by starting a new conversation.  These two organizations have both done incredibly important work around destigmatizing abortion, and empowering people to tell their own stories.

#ShoutYourAbortion was founded in 2015 after the hashtag went viral and enabled thousands of people to share their abortion stories.  SYA empowers people to tell their own stories on their own terms, and aims to humanize and normalize the experience of abortion.  Collective Sex is a storytelling initiative and an all-femme production company that aims to “decolonize storytelling” by destigmatizing stories about sex, body, intimacy and identity.  Their project, the short film Names of Women, depicts a first person account of an abortion experience, produced through the lens of healing and spirituality.

Their idea for this program was to give people a chance to hear and share abortion stories, and to discuss the complexities around abortion access in a way that increases compassion and empathy.  Along with their program, I also had the idea to bring Poppy and Amelia to my campus for an afternoon discussion with a smaller group of students.  Because my awesome professor let me hijack our class for the day, this discussion ended up taking place in my Feminist Theories class, and allowed students who were studying the theory behind this kind of advocacy work to see the theory in action.  This was a really exciting opportunity for my classmates, because they were able to talk to Poppy and Amelia about their work in a more intimate setting.  I couldn’t have asked for a better discussion, and everyone was able to walk away with a new perspective on this work.

 

Molly Nov 2017 blog 1

Later that evening, we hosted their 90-minute program, in which Poppy and Amelia discussed their respective approaches to creative abortion storytelling as a form of activism.  This program included a showing of the short film Names of Women, which was produced by Collective Sex, and a few of SYA’s digital abortion stories, and aimed to enhance creative storytelling as a form of “artivism” (art as activism) that helps to depoliticize and re-humanize discussions around abortion.  Because the program was about abortion, there was a lot of hesitation from university staff members to advertise this program to their students, and this really affected the program’s attendance.  Regardless of the small audience, we were able to modify the program and still create incredibly meaningful conversations around abortion.

Molly Nov 2017 blog 2

This program, along with the two incredible people who created it, will be returning for another Bible Belt tour in the spring.  I’m really looking forward to hosting this program again and making sure that these conversations reach more and more students!

Reproductive Justice 101 with SisterSong

by Marie-Antoinette Sintim, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at UNC Chapel Hill

I’ve been learning about Reproductive Justice for a while and I’ve learned a lot.  You know when you feel confident about something that you forget that there’re still a million things to know?  Well, November 12, 2017, was that day for me.  Kate, my badass feminist friend, had worked really hard for there to be a Reproductive Justice training on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, and as the Campus Leader at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, I worked with her to get SisterSong to come and conduct this training.  It had been advertised not just to the UNC community, but to nearby communities, as well.  We had pizza and cookies!  I was very excited (I believe in food always).

Would we have students?  Faculty?  Neighbors?  A random protestor?  Luckily for us, the people that showed up were students, friends, and neighbors who were eager to learn about reproductive Justice.

Apart from a great crowd, Ash of SisterSong expanded the narrative of Reproductive Justice, choosing not to focus on just cisgender white women, but on trans people, non- binary people, and People of Color.  Attendees shared stories about their reproductive lives, in all forms.  The more I do this work, the more I am reminded that for many people these are stories that are hard to tell no matter how many times they are shared.  And that to be trusted with such a story is a privilege and should be respected.  There are never enough spaces to tell those things that we are afraid to utter ,but we had that space during this training (and because of the sacredness I won’t share other people’s stories here, but I’m sure we all have our stories or know those of our loved ones).

Founders of RJ

While teaching us about the Reproductive Justice framework, Ash allowed for questions, no matter how uncomfortable.  I learned that I won’t always be prepared for uncomfortable questions!  In my discomfort, I decided not to lead with my exasperation and anger with attendees who didn’t understand the importance of Reproductive Justice…maybe today I would lead with some compassion instead.  I started talking to myself like you do before you’re about to say something you don’t quite know how to say and told myself: “There are things that these people don’t know about Reproductive Justice and I don’t know everything, either, and I’m not right always and don’t always use the right language or phrase everything correctly.  I’m still learning, too.”  The mere fact that these folks had come to a teach in about Reproductive Justice meant something!

So, today I learned something new and so did they!