In February, MSFC launched the Beyond Roe Project. Roe v. Wade is constantly under threat and already fails to ensure abortion access for many people across the US. We can‘t expect it to remain in place forever, and it‘s long been time to fight for more than maintaining the status quo. Through our #BeyondRoe program, MSFC provides members with the tools to create a future where all people can get an abortion when they need it, and physicians support and respect their patients’ decisions.
We‘ve identified three key focus areas for this year: Advocacy, Medication Abortion, and Ending Criminalization. We’ve created new event guides with a virtual event format in mind to help your chapter prepare for a future #BeyondRoe starting this year.
To kick off the Beyond Roe Project, MSFC held a community call. As a community, we learned about the current legal landscape and legislative barriers to abortion access and MSFC‘s new resources to support chapters‘ Beyond Roe work. We heard from our students already engaged in protecting and expanding abortion access. Here are some of the ways our students are working to move Beyond Roe.
We heard from Rose in Boston about her chapter‘s work in advocating for the passage of the Roe Act, legislation that expanded abortion access in Massachusetts for minors and people seeking an abortion after 24 weeks in some cases. The chapter partnered with local affiliates of NARAL and Planned Parenthood and others in the Roe Act Coalition to learn about the Act, access training, and advocate for the passage. As Rose reminded us, “even in blue states, [abortion] access isn‘t equitable,“ and the Roe Act is a big step in remedying that reality.
In Texas, people seeking abortions face many barriers, including distance. In the region where Jasmine goes to school, many patients have to drive at least five hours to access care. Additional legislative restrictions require multiple clinic visits and waiting periods. This legislative landscape is so oppressive and daunting that activists can quickly feel overwhelmed. Jasmine and her peers volunteer with Jane’s Due Process, a Texas organization that facilitates abortion care, especially for teens who require a judicial bypass. Every volunteer shift, Jasmine can connect with patients and offer them resources and support, and this work is both helpful and invigorating. Jasmine shared this wisdom with us: “small things can make a big difference.“
In religiously–affiliated schools, learning about abortion and family planning is rare. State-level abortion restrictions not only restrict access to abortion care, they also limit access to training. To help remedy this reality, Amanda works to bring extracurricular education to her classmates. She and her chapter are organizing a reproductive justice panel comprised of clinicians of different specialties. This panel is a massive success for a school and region that is unfriendly to abortion rights and could be the first opportunity students have to learn about reproductive justice.
Uma and Raadhika in New Jersey learned about new research on missed period pills from an NYT opinion piece and were excited to learn more. They connected with the researchers and had them discuss their work and the future of the research study. Research is a powerful tool in advocacy at a legislative level. Research is vital in advocating within the medical field for new approaches to and techniques for providing care. By introducing their peers to this research, [students] allow their classmates to think outside of the status quo for new care delivery models that can expand abortion access and patient empowerment.
We are proud of our chapters’ work to expand abortion access in their communities. As the threats to this access continue to grow, we see our chapters rising to the challenge, and we are honored to support them in this work.