What does the repeal of Roe v. Wade for Stamford Young Feminists? “I am very disgusted”

STAMFORD — Before last Monday night, there were more pressing issues for young feminists at Westhill High School. There is in particular the widening of access to the toilets, which the members of the Feminist Club have taken up as a banner this semester.

And since winter, they’ve been trying to tackle the school’s dress code, which they say targets “people who dress femininely” while not monitoring boys’ clothing in the same way.

But for a few hours between last Monday night and Tuesday, the group’s day-to-day worries faded away. News of the impending Supreme Court decision to repeal Roe v. Wade, a ruling that would restrict access to abortion in more than half the country, cut through everything else.

“When I found out, I was actually in my room, sitting on my bed: my mom came into my room and I was studying for my AP Psych exam,” said MadisonElizabeth Anderson, the club’s president. 16 years old. She had alternated between study material and photos of opulent outfits from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual gala – this year’s theme was The Gilded Age.

Her mother came into the room and asked her if she had heard of the leaked decision.

From there, the news spread among – Anderson sent a link to the other members of the club. By text message, they tried to analyze what the news meant.

“I probably didn’t realize its full impact,” said 17-year-old Nicola Andrzejewski. She was busy at work when the news broke. The shock didn’t fully settle, Andrzejewski said, until the next day at school through conversations with Anderson and fellow club member Alexandra Tobiasiewicz, also 17. But once the three girls realized what was about to happen, the shock went bone-deep, they said.

And the concern was not limited to the more than 20 members of the Westhill Feminist Club. Their school counselor is Tye Bell, 27, a school counselor.

“Students I’ve spoken to are confused,” she said, and many don’t understand what the impending repeal means.

Katherine Vartuli, a Westport native and 22-year-old student at UConn Stamford, was also shocked.

“To put it very frankly, I’m very disgusted,” Vartuli said. Like the Westhill Feminist Club, the idea of ​​someone else governing her reproductive choices bothers her, she said.

The slur feels political and incredibly personal, both because she’s a woman and because her mother works at an OB-GYN clinic, she said.

She’s spent the past semester learning about reproductive health and justice as part of a college course, but says she “didn’t expect (the decision) at all.”

According to surveys, support for abortion is higher among young people than among other age groups. Public opinion polling firm Gallup found that 56% of people aged 18-29 identify as “pro-choice”, while 39% identify as “pro-life”. For people 65 or older, the statistic is almost exactly the opposite: 58% were against abortion and 39% supported abortion rights.

Ingrid Semaan, the activist and sociologist who teaches the course Vartulli just took, has dedicated her adult life to feminist scholarship.

“Roe v. Wade made abortion bans … before viability unconstitutional, but there has been an erosion of those rights since then, since 1973,” Semaan explained. After viability, the fetus can survive outside the uterus. Most professionals consider the viability turning point to be around 23 or 24 weeks. However, there is no medical consensus on when this occurs.

Even under Roe v. Wade, according to Semaan, individual states can still enforce abortion restrictions. Abortion rights group, the Guttmacher Institute, says 43 states “prohibit abortions after a specific point in pregnancy, with some exceptions.” Half of U.S. states require a person seeking an abortion to wait a certain amount of time, “usually 24 hours,” before having an abortion after hearing informational counseling, according to Guttmacher.

And beyond existing barriers to abortion, Semaan said she views the procedure within the broader framework of reproductive justice, something pioneered by black feminists in 1994 that sees abortion rights as a only component of family planning.

To this day, reproductive justice advocates argue that abortion is only part of the definition of reproductive freedom. Reproductive justice organization Sister Song argues that “contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, help with domestic violence, adequate wages to support…families (and) secure homes” all contribute to reproductive freedom.

“And certainly we don’t have social supports for people to raise the kids they already have, like paid family leave,” Semaan said. She teaches all of these things to students when she tells them about Roe v. Wade — especially now that the legal precedent is in danger of being overturned, she said.

When young people like the Westhill Feminist Club or her students learn that nationwide abortion rights are under threat, Semaan says she watches them come to terms with reality. Their shock comes at the political efforts of more than 40 years.

Semaan said she thinks their disbelief “comes from a kind of general impulse to see change as always going in a positive direction, rather than ‘sometimes things get better and sometimes things get worse,'” she declared. “It really comes from a kind of charming optimism, but it’s not rooted in the story.”

History shows that the national and political attitude towards abortion has always been charged.

“There were big assaults in the 1980s on abortion providers and abortion clinics,” Semaan said.

As a teenager, she was closer to these assaults than most. The militant anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue was headquartered in its hometown: Binghampton, NY

During her youth, Semaan attended and helped organize clinic defenses and escort services for people seeking care in places that performed abortions. Those early actions informed her politics and helped define her activism, she said.

Just as current events have defined Semaan’s vision, they have already shaped that of the Feminist Club. They have the fight back in mind, they said.

The girls want to put together an informational video about Roe v. Wade to project at school. Additionally, Tobiasiewicz and Anderson said they wanted to take the club to the planned abortion rights protest in Stamford last weekend.

“I’m going to load everyone into my car,” Tobiasiewicz said on Friday, his mind already set on what’s next.

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