Speak Out Held on Campus to End Abortion Stigma
Ithaca College’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action organization teamed up with Ending Abortion Stigma (EAS), at their Oct. 23 event. The event was titled “Roe v. Wade: Abortion Speak Out” and featured a panel of five women, four from EAS and one representing Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes.
EAS is a group of women that came together two years ago before the 2016 presidential election because of a shared concern about the state of politics and its effect on abortion rights. Many of the women in the group have had abortions or had to consider abortion at some point before Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.
The women of EAS describe themselves as “finely-aged, fierce feminists for choice” and take action through lobbying, holding rallies and participating in abortion forums like this one.
Last year was the first time IC Planned Parenthood Generation Action put together this event on campus, but the panel was a closed event only open to members of the club. This year, the event was made public in the hopes of a better turnout and opening up the conversation to destigmatize abortion, according to club president Tatiana Jorio.
“An issue like this [abortion] is important to talk about because it’s affecting our student body. I feel like there’s a tendency in news cycles to dismiss young people and their relationship to issues like abortion,” said Jorio. “Having an event like this shows the student body that Roe v. Wade can affect young people too.”
The stories the women told were candid and honest. Nancy Miller, a member of EAS with experience as a nurse practitioner and midwife at Planned Parenthood, shared her story of contemplating abortion but choosing adoption instead because of the moral gridlock the illegality of abortion caused her.
“I carried a pregnancy, gave birth to a baby girl and surrendered her for adoption. That would be easier that doing something illegal, right?” she said. “It took me five years to find my deep grief. Every year on her birthday and all year long I would wonder where she was, how she was, and hoped beyond hope that she was well taken care of.”
Stories like Miller’s show that many women face a double bind when it comes to making a choice about abortion.
Following the personal testimonials, Ashleigh McGuire, Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes, gave a formal presentation about how Roe v. Wade is potentially at risk.
“The right to access safe, legal abortion is on the line. There are currently 13 cases about laws that block access to abortion that are only one step away from the Supreme Court,” said McGuire.
Although the stories the women of EAS shared were emotional and the statistics provided by Planned Parenthood were staggering, the overarching theme of the event was the impact young generations of college students can have on affecting political change.
“What we really want young women to know is that the bad, old days were really bad and that women will have and seek out abortions even if they’re illegal and if they become not legal then they can become not safe,” said Miller.
“If we fight, there’s a chance of saving Roe v. Wade but it’s very much at risk given our political climate right now. We all need to be politically active. I never thought that I’d have to fight this fight again.”