Past, present, and future of Roe v. Wade at the College

Berkshire Doula Project

First off, we want to recognize that many people are probably scared and angry at the results of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Even though it occurred months ago, the shock waves are still being felt nationally and here at the College; the legal restrictions seem to have just begun. The federal government seems to be moving back in time.

Even though Massachusetts will continue to support reproductive rights, there are several reasons that this issue should be at the forefront of people’s minds, beyond the blatant disregard for human rights that it represents.

First, the College has students from states where abortion is now illegal. It is unclear whether they will be prosecuted in their home states if they pursue reproductive health care access in Massachusetts. This lack of clarity could discourage students from pursuing reproductive health care out of fear for when they return to their home states.

On the same note, it is unclear whether there will be legal pushback against the institutions that help provide access to abortions to people from out of state. Though we are still in the early stages of seeing how states legally interact on this matter, Texas has already threatened to sue doctors in other states who perform abortions on their residents.

On a more emotional note, this decision could affect the quality of sexual relationships, because it reminds the American people that their bodies are not actually their own, but are being policed by the federal government.

The ability to choose whether you have children is a central tenet of human rights. This autonomy is being restricted, and the federal government is in no way taking responsibility for supporting families who may not be able to support more children. They are setting the American people up for failure and widening the gap between the upper and lower economic classes.

The Berkshire Doula Project (BDP) is obviously enraged and devastated at the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. We recognize that all of this information can be overwhelming, and we want to acknowledge that there is no way to do successful advocacy work if you don’t take care of yourself, so we encourage you to do so.

Our organization was founded on the concept of reproductive justice, which is not only about the right to choose, but also about access — access to health care, contraception, living wages, safe homes, pregnancy care, and so much more. To achieve reproductive justice, we must analyze power systems, address intersecting oppressions, center the most marginalized, and join together across issues and identities.

If you are seeking or have received abortion services and want to talk about it, Exhale — an organization that provides after-abortion support — is a great resource. A few other resources that BDP, in partnership with the Queer Student Union (QSU), Rape and Sexual Assault Network (RASAN), and Feminist Coalition, can offer this community to help get the healthcare they deserve include the following:

(1) Faculty and staff are now able to take as many days as necessary to travel to get an abortion.

(2) The College now provides transportation to and from appointments in Springfield, Pittsfield, and Albany.

(3) The College has committed to providing medication abortions and IUD insertions at the Health Center, but this may take some time to go into effect.

(4) There is 24/7 access to emergency contraception (Plan B/the morning after pill) at the “vending machine” in the doorway of the Williamstown Apothecary.

(5) Medication abortions are available by mail through Aid Access.

Take this information to heart and understand that we can and will enact change.

As an organization, we strive to meet these tenets in everything we do, which is why we want to center the conversation on the voices so frequently silenced. Some ways to do this are to use gender neutral language (women are not the only people with uteruses!), advocate not only for abortion but for comprehensive, accessible health care, and support organizations that center marginalized voices. To find further information about some of these organizations, you can visit our linktree on our Instagram @berkshiredoulaproj.

In order to keep supporting people seeking reproductive justice, we will continue to run doula trainings and advocacy events. Doula trainings are an opportunity to learn more about the framework of reproductive justice and to become a certified abortion, IUD insertion, and loss doula, working with real patients to support them in any of these procedures. If you are looking for concrete steps to help, email [email protected] or come to our weekly meeting on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in upper Goodrich.

The Berkshire Doula Project is a student collective that advocates for reproductive rights.