The Women’s Center has received inquiries about what we are doing in response to the Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and requests for information about actions that people can take. Here are some thoughts based on our collective conversations.
Our response is the same as when we have been asked what we are doing in response to students’ protests around sexual assault response on campus; in response to anti-black state sanctioned violence; and in response to proposals to reduce civil rights and access to healthcare for trans people. The Women’s Center is continuing to engage in education, advocacy, and support services in the service of gender equity today and moving forward, just as we did on Thursday, June 23rd and for our 50 year herstory before that. We encourage you to do the same.
Decision makers are framing how to respond as a question of where we as individuals, communities, and organizations stand on abortion as a political and policy issue. There are debates about who can and should choose a side and what will be the ramifications of doing so. At the Women’s Center, our work is informed by generations of anti-racist scholarship and practice. Therefore, we are choosing to resist this narrative. Dobbs is not simply about abortion; at stake are essential human rights of privacy, freedom, and bodily autonomy, which includes reproductive rights. This ruling is not just an issue for people seeking abortions; it is a matter of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
Finally, in response to those who have asked and to those who have yet to, we offer the following to highlight engagement and outreach efforts and opportunities:
Education: We believe education is a critical component of making informed choices about what you choose to do with your body, your influence, and your resources. We have curated a list of articles below that speak to the implications of this decision, particularly in the context of higher education. We are helping to amplify the information from SHaW (Student Health and Wellness about the services available to students here at UConn. Finally, Planned Parenthood and Women’s Enews both have sites for information about the status of access to abortion by state.
Advocacy: Our work to challenge the larger systems of oppression must be informed by and honor the legacies of those who have gone before us, whose shoulders we stand on, as we consider what role(s) we play in the work that still needs to be done. A few useful resources for learning more about reproductive justice and gender equity include Center for Reproductive Rights; the Guttmacher Institute; NARAL Pro-Choice America; Planned Parenthood; Sister Song, a Women of Color Reproductive Justice collective; and Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), a community activist network. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list but offers a starting point for better understanding and information on ways to be involved.
Support: We hear and share the sense of sadness, frustration, anger, and exhaustion that has permeated public and private discourse on this. The Dobbs decision is just one more example of how overtly racist, sexist, and ableist laws, policies, and practices reduce freedom and equality for all. So again, we turn to anti-racist feminists who have and continue to articulate self-care that is centered in community care. How can we create spaces with each other that can hold our pain and foster our hope? We are in discussions with partners across the University, the state, and the country about programs for the fall.
We also will continue our work to enhance resources for expecting and parenting students. We have partnered with representatives from Human Resources, the Dean of Students Office, the Graduate School, the Office of Institutional Equity, UConn Health, and SHaW to identify gaps and best practices in our current support systems. We recently launched a website with resources for expecting and parenting students. Also, we support the Moms4Moms group, which includes students.
Connecticut has for decades codified a person’s right to choose from the full range of options for reproductive healthcare. While we cannot take that for granted, we also have a responsibility to explore what mutual aid can look like across communities – engaging in collective care that embraces all our assets, recognizes disparate impact, and radically reimagines relationships with and of power. We look forward to being in community here at UConn, as well as with our colleagues at institutions that are facing limits on the fundamental human right of individuals to control their bodies and their destinies, to do just that.
List of articles: