by Kristen Sands, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at Davidson College
Hello again from Davidson College, North Carolina! During November, our on-campus student activists were hard at work generating thoughtful conversation about reproductive justice.
On Thursday, three of my fellow students and I hosted an educational luncheon event covering the Hyde Amendment as part of All* Above All’s November week of action. We presented information on the history of the Hyde Amendment and the barrier it poses to abortion access, encouraging our audience to consider how this is an economic justice issue as it allows the government to deny people of lower income abortion coverage as part of their health insurance programs.
To illustrate the true impact of the Hyde Amendment, we discussed how 1 in 6 women of reproductive age in the United States are Medicaid recipients, and to understand the disproportionate effect that Hyde has on Women of Color we broke down to the group that 30% of these women are black and 24% are Latina/Hispanic. We discussed other populations subject to the Hyde Amendment, including Native American women enrolled in federal health insurance plans, women in federal prisons and detained undocumented immigrants. To get an idea of the individual experience of the Hyde Amendment, we discussed Jane Doe, the 17-year-old immigrant from Central America who made the decision to have an abortion but was blocked by the Office of Refugee Resettlement from receiving the procedure for over a month. The ACLU worked tirelessly on her behalf, and ultimately after weeks of litigation they obtained a court order requiring the government to immediately permit her access to an abortion.
Moving forward to educate students about what they could do, we spoke about All* Above All and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina’s efforts to repeal of the Hyde Amendment and encouraged students to educate themselves, follow these organizations, and help raise awareness. Students were excited to hear that activism on a local and state level could make a difference, as municipalities can pass resolutions standing up to the discrimination of the Hyde Amendment and states can decide to fund medically necessary abortions through their own Medicaid programs. Finally, we encouraged students to consider a candidate’s stance on the Hyde amendment when deciding which candidate they will support. Even if a candidate or elected official is pro-choice, if they are not pro-coverage, we want to keep this in mind in our activism and voice that this is an issue that matters to us! Many students who attended our educational event didn’t know a lot about the Hyde Amendment, which made me feel even stronger that this kind of outreach and education is so important! Following the event, students were eager to sign All* Above All’s “Justice Pledge” and felt empowered by their new understanding.
Next, on Sunday evening I collaborated with the Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter at Davidson for an abortion storytelling event titled “#IDefy.” The goal of the event was to break down abortion stigma and promote empowerment, awareness, and empathy. Before sharing abortion stories, we went through some facts on abortion procedures, covering the differences between basics of medication abortion and surgical abortion. This was to bust any myths in the audience and give a brief but practical sense of what we would actually be talking about. We then introduced the 1 in 3 Campaign led by Advocates for Youth as well as Planned Parenthood’s #IDefy campaign, both of which inspired this event. The central purpose of the event was to share abortion stories, some from our campus and some from the 1 in 3 collection of stories. Hearing the experiences of real women from our Davidson community and beyond was deeply powerful. Re-centering the conversation on abortion back to the patient was revitalizing and a meaningful reminder of the humanity behind this unfortunately politicized issue. To close the evening, we heard from our campus Health Educator, Georgia Ringle, who is a wonderful pro-choice advocate on campus and has supported many women at Davidson throughout their decisions about abortion. She spoke about her personal goals to combat shame and stigma on our campus and her availability as a confidential and judgement-free resource. I was thankful to hear from many students that they left this event feeling thankful for the bravery of their peers who were willing to share their stories and inspired by the compassion of the group.
Thank you again NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and also All* Above All for giving me the resources to bring this essential education to my campus!