know about UN students discuss past and future work on post-Roe abortion rights UN students discuss post-Roe abortion rights work
When Weinberg junior Vivica Lewis first learned that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she said she stayed away from social media and avoided talking to people about the news because it “just hurt so much.”
Lewis has spent the summer working on a research project on the history of access to contraception in countries around the world. By the end of August she will have traveled to Buenos Aires, London, Dublin, Paris and Singapore. But Lewis, who has worked in sexual health and reproductive justice education for several years, said he knows he will immediately be “hands on” for her and other activists once he returns to the US.
“As someone who works in the field, it’s more difficult because you see firsthand what it’s like and you know who’s going to get hurt the most,” Lewis said.
During his first two years at Northwestern, Lewis taught Chicago high school students about health through the student organization Peer Health Exchange. Most recently, she worked with Illinois Contraceptive Access Now and did data entry for an abortion clinic in the Chicago area, and is currently a sexual health education intern for Chicago Public Schools.
While Lewis said she’s still thinking about next steps, her goals include continuing to donate to mutual aid groups, expanding abortion and sexual health education in CPS, and training to be an abortion doula at the Women’s Health Center. Chicago.
“No one sets out to have an abortion, so it’s a very difficult emotional process,” Lewis said. “Abortion doulas are very helpful in relieving that pain as much as possible. ”
Medill junior Lunden Mason, executive director of Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, said her group will continue to provide resources on abortion and spread awareness among the student body in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. SHAPE also partners with the Center for Awareness, Response and Education, which said it now offers expanded help for students to find and travel to abortion providers.
Mason is also exploring other actions SHAPE can take for abortion access. She said she recently requested a collaboration with Plan C, a campaign to make abortion pills more accessible by mail, and has also discussed an initiative to make transportation and housing easier for students in nearby states who have to travel to Illinois for abort.
“I personally, and I know many other people at SHAPE feel the same way, would go to any length, funding or supporting services or otherwise, to help someone through the process of having an abortion,” Mason said. “As members of SHAPE, we definitely want to be in community with everyone right now, because I know it’s a really tough time.”
SHAPE has also provided financial support to the abortion rights cause, Mason said. She cited her Spring Quarter Sex Toy Fair, which she said raised more than $1,000 for the Native Women on the Rise abortion fund. Mason added that she also donates to the Yellowhammer Fund, an abortion fund that primarily serves the South, and encourages people to support smaller abortion funds that don’t have the means of groups like Planned Parenthood.
Students from other reproductive justice-oriented groups are also thinking about actions they can take to support abortion rights. Weinberg junior Irene Quan and Weinberg sophomore Rhea Sharma, co-chairs of NU Menstrual Equity Activists, said they have discussed initiatives such as volunteering at abortion clinics.
“We’re focused on menstrual equity, which essentially means we want to help alleviate any discrepancies that menstruators face,” Sharma said. “Obviously, abortion also falls under that realm of reproductive rights.”
Sharma said the club welcomes anyone interested in empowering people who menstruate or may become pregnant. He added that he has seen many new members create their own exciting projects and receive support from the rest of the group.
Menstrual products and abortions have similar access problems, Quan said. He said both methods of care should be as accessible as toilet paper.
“Both abortion rights and reproductive rights, it’s something that affects everyone, whether it’s people at Northwestern or around the world,” Quan said. “And yet, it’s something that can be so taboo in different communities and cultures.”
Quan said he expects the group’s possible defense of abortion rights to be even more crucial because Illinois is surrounded by states with substantial restrictions or bans on abortion.
Mason said the UN could also do more to support abortion rights. While he has limits to the actions he can take as a university, he said he believes institutions in general should be more advocates and divest from corporations and anti-abortion politicians.
“They can have a huge impact,” Mason said. “It would be very, very encouraging to see the institution put some money behind these causes that their students really care about.”
Lewis said her passion for her work stems in part from her experience as a Black and Latina woman. Her communities, she said, have long suffered from reproductive injustice, to the point that many were not surprised by Roe’s ouster.
However, Lewis said he remains optimistic that abortion rights activists will ultimately prevail in their work. But he urged people who remain on the sidelines to rise to the occasion.
“The movement needs everyone,” Lewis said. “So whatever capacity works for you, go out there and do something.”
Email: [email protected]
— ‘We thought this was all settled’: The implications of Roe’s rollback on LGBTQ+ populations
— Demonstrators organize to protest anti-abortion lawyer following reversal of Roe v. Wade
— ‘This story is not going away’: Panelists discuss the implications of the Dobbs v. Jackson Panelists discuss overturning Roe v. Wade