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

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!