Roe v. Wade is a 1973 case that made abortion legal on a federal level. On May 3, 2022, a Supreme Court ruling to overturn the case was leaked. That same night, millions of people around the country started protesting the decision in their communities hoping for a change of mind.
At 6:30 p.m., Philadelphians gathered in front of City Hall to let their voices be heard. The protest organizers spoke about topics such as universal healthcare, abortion resources, affordable housing and the future effects of the decision on pregnant lower income people, especially on people of color. Protestors had multiple signs that showed their disappointment towards the Supreme Court’s leak.
On June 24, the decision to overturn Roe was made official. Philadelphians yet again gathered in much larger numbers in front of City Hall. The crowd was mostly people who were there in support of the pro-choice movement with the appearance of a few counterprotesters. The words “Safe Abortion” were grafittied in pink on the building with multiple activists speaking right next to it.
While Gov. Tom Wolf assured Pennsylvanians that “women and pregnant people in surrounding states and across the country are safe here in the commonwealth,” states like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas had trigger laws that banned abortion immediately after the decision was made.
Here at Drexel, students hailing from states across the country worry about the implications of the Supreme Court decisions.
McKenna Cole, a third year Global Studies major, is from Kansas, a state surrounded by multiple others that already banned abortion.
“The march was a great reminder that there is a greater community fighting the fight, but the people in legislative power haven’t given me much to hold onto,” said Cole. “One speaker said ‘It’s funny how Republicans always seem to keep their promise and complete their mission, but Democrats can’t do the same.’ I think the glorious facade of the US government has been chipping away the last couple years, but this eventually solidified the lack of trust in any government.”
Kate Flaherty, third year Health Sciences major at Drexel, commented about her fear on what this decision means for the future of reproductive rights.
“It’s been devastating to see the reversal of the progress people before us had fought so so hard to create. It’s uncomfortable and terrifying to think about a situation where I cannot make decisions around the future of my body in a physical sense, and my life in every way. It’s disgusting,” said Flaherty.
Amy Carson, a recent Drexel graduate, is from Ohio, where a 10-year-old pregnant girl sought abortion in Indiana becase of the state’s abortion laws.
“It’s obviously super upsetting. Knowing how extremely conservative the state legislature is and the moves they made pre-Roe repeal, the fact that they’re so hard line on the issue is not necessarily surprising, but seeing the direct effects of it is horrifying in such an imaginable way. It’s heartbreaking,” Carson stated.
President John Fry released a statement via email to Drexel students and colleagues on June 27. In the email, Fry stated that he was “processing” the ruling of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
“No matter where one stands on this issue, the Court’s ruling will have immediate and far-reaching impacts on women, on public health, and on communities across much of the country,” Fry’s email read.
Fry acknowledged that the issue especially affects low-income women and Black women.
Fry continued the email by stating Drexel has three “primary tasks” in mind. The first of these tasks is “supporting women’s reproductive autonomy and the physical and mental health needs of every member of our community – students, faculty, and professional staff.”
The email then listed resources such as the Student Health Center and Counseling Center.
Fry claimed that Drexel will be focusing on education surrounding legal issues that will arise from the new ruling, including more “high-level discussions and focused programming.”
Lastly, Fry administered a call to action, encouraging members of the Drexel community to vote and concluded the email with stating there should be “mutual respect for those holding opposing views.”
Drexel Now also provided updates from the university, including an hour and a half stream hosted by the Dornsife School of Public Health. The stream was co-hosted by the Kline School of Law and included “what legal or public health practitioners, educators, advocates, community members and students can do to protect reproductive rights and public health,” the description read.
While many have hope that protesting, community organizing and voting will be the answer to protecting reproductive rights, others feel defeated by the decision.
“It felt good to protest at City Hall with people who are on my side, but sometimes I wonder how much power we truly have against those trying to take away our rights, and that’s what makes me scared,” said Flaherty. “There will always be abortions, but whether they are safe and accessible is the only thing in question.”