By Kiyanna Noel
The Gender and Women’s Studies Forum hosted “Reproductive Justice: My Body, My Choice” on Sept. 28 in the Alumni Conference Room of the Angell College Center.
The panel had different speakers shedding light on Roe vs. Wade being overturned, the Dobbs vs. Jackson case and the different stigmas surrounding the Planned Parenthood organization. The presentation was given to a group of over 50 students and faculty.
Dr. Connie Oxford, the associate professor and chair of the Gender and Women Studies department, started the discussion and introduced the speakers of the morning. Dr. Ilona Flores, an adjunct lecturer for the anthropology and gender and women’s studies departments and the Latin American studies program, joined the meeting on Zoom. While Dr. Raymond Carman, an associate professor of the Political Science Department, and Gray Adkins, a 2016 Plattsburgh graduate and Planned Parenthood representative, were in person.
Flores was the first presenter, and she addressed the regions where abortion is legal and illegal. Flores elaborated on the cases where women have been sent to jail for having abortions or experiencing miscarriages in different countries. Flores went over international laws in many Latin American countries and the crises in these countries that women face when they don’t have control over their bodies.
“Since then, according to the Guardian, at least 182 women who’s suffered obstructive emergencies have been prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide,” Flores said when discussing El Salvador’s policies and restrictions on women’s bodies. However, she also mentioned the progressive side of abortion in other Latin American countries.
“In the last two years Mexico, Argentina and Colombia have decriminalized or fully legalized abortion. In fact, in February of this year, abortion access has extended to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy within Colombia itself,” Flores said.
Her speech helped the audience to understand why and how abortion can be good in some countries and the dangers of not having access to it in others.
Carman’s presentation went over the different legalities when it comes to the Supreme Court and their decisions. He started off by mentioning the exposure of the leaked draft of their opinion of Roe vs. Wade then brought the audience back to a similar case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court held that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion.
Carman broke down the contents of the leaked document and explained the details to the audience, so there was no confusion on what was being banned and the reasoning behind it.
Adkins’ colorful and interactive presentation went over local abortion access. He started by acknowledging the questions that come with abortion access and different examples of situations that arise when going to a Planned Parenthood in the North Country and in general. Adkins also spoke about the stigmas surrounding getting an abortion such as support when you enter a Planned Parenthood office and seeing someone of the same color or race as you, as well as the promise of confidentiality. Cost concerns are also a topic that he addressed in his presentation.
“Well, let’s try to remember also that just because you might arrive at one solution to that situation, other people are going to arrive at other completely different solutions. The exercise is not to practice deciding what other people should do with their bodies and their life. It’s just to start to grapple with those ideas and understand how stigmas and barriers are impacting people’s lives right now,” Adkins ended before dismissing the conference and opening the floor for questions.