In the wake of a Supreme Court leak on Roe v. Wade, Binghamton University activists have taken action.
Last week saw a set of events regarding abortion rights hosted by the Multicultural and Political Action Student Organizations at Binghamton University, a coalition of socially active groups that includes the Latin American Student Union (LASU), the Asian Student Union (ASU), Planned Parenthood Generation at Binghamton and the Binghamton Left, as well as other organizations. These events come after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, released by Politico, showing a 5-3 vote in favor of repudiating Roe v. Wade, with Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision still unclear. The ruling, expected to be delivered this summer, would bring an end to federal abortion rights and leave the matter to individual states, many of which in the South and Midwest already have anti-abortion policies ready to become law.
The student group came together to organize and plan events soon after the leak, according to Kayleigh McGeeney, the secretary for LASU and a sophomore double-majoring in mathematics and history.
“So when the draft came out LASU was already discussing what we wanted to do,” McGeeney wrote in an email. “Not long after the draft came out we had communications from ASU and Binghamton Left. From there, LASU emailed a plethora of multicultural organizations on campus to meet up to organize. It has been a great pleasure to work with these [organizations]. Everyone has been really helpful and really insightful.”
Now joined together, a series of Zoom meetings between prominent members of the organizations took place, where the group decided how they wanted to proceed. After much deliberation, they settled on a town hall that Wednesday, May 11, which would be followed by a gathering on Saturday, May 14. Emily Sadutto, president of Planned Parenthood Generation at Binghamton and a junior majoring in political science, said the town hall was planned to provide a thoughtful space and resources for students.
“We wanted to give students a space to learn more about what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned and engage in active discussion,” Sadutto wrote in an email. “We also wanted to offer sexual and mental health resources to students.”
Students proceeded to come to Lecture Hall 14 for the coalition’s town hall, which featured presentations and speakers on topics related to Roe v. Wade. The event was opened by BU’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), who presented students with a letter to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), calling to end the filibuster and to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
Noelle Dutch, the incoming vice chair for the YDSA and a junior majoring in political science, explained that the letter campaign is part of a larger movement to involve students with abortion rights.
“Using this pledge campaign, we will begin to build a constituency for further organizing and action to ensure both the right to an abortion in particular, and broader rights to health care,” Dutch wrote in an email. “I hope the student body is inspired to take actions not only with Roe v. Wade but in making the [U.S.] Government a more democratic institution, both federally and locally.”
After the letters, LASU gave a presentation on “Reproductive Justice in the United States,” outlining the history of abortion rights in America as well as health care resources. A few speakers from the local community and the University followed, with one such speaker being Aviva Friedman, ‘14, a community educator at Family Planning of South Central New York and a Binghamton City Council member.
Friedman furthered the discussion on what resources she said are and should be available regarding reproductive health care, and explained the potential response that the City Council would have to an overturn of Roe v. Wade, namely a proclamation against the decision. Friedman also told the story of a couple she had spoken to that used most contraceptives but still got pregnant, and said this example proves the need for accessibility.
“We were talking for two hours, and you know, in my head obviously abortion should be accessible to everyone,” Friedman said. “But specifically, if someone like that can get pregnant unintentionally how can we possibly say that, ‘OK, abortion is only allowed for these certain groups.’ We can’t play that moral-like high ground game, because we end up in that situation.”
The speakers were followed by an open discussion on how best to react to a potential Roe v. Wade overturn as well as other issues relating to access to reproductive health care in communities. Arlene Gao, a junior double-majoring in economics and graphic design, said political resources should be focused on states that run the risk of flipping from blue.
“I feel like a lot of the time we don’t recognize how privileged we are to be living in a state that is most likely going to stay blue in our lifetime,” Gao said. “Roe v. Wade getting overturned is going to be really scary for the people who live in red states, and like right now what we really need to be doing is working on keeping states that need to be flipped like Ohio open.”
Following the town hall, several students gathered for a second time on the Peace Quad on Saturday, which saw a discussion on abortion rights and other related issues, particularly for minority communities, be discussed. In attendance was Luca Cassidy, the vice president of the Binghamton Left and a freshman double-majoring in economics and sociology, who described the importance of letting students know through these events how to inspire real change,
“That feeling angry and posting the occasional post is OK, but real change comes when people come together and put in the work,” Cassidy wrote in an email. “That work being organizing protests, creating organizations that meet people’s needs and annoying your representatives. We, together, can build a better tomorrow.”
Moving forward from these events and with potential plans for more on the horizon, McGeeney expressed her hope that students will understand the safe spaces and resources available to them.
“I hope that BU students understand that [there] are people who care about this on campus,” McGeeney wrote. “We, the multicultural organizations, are a safe space to talk about this issue and other current issues. I also hope that BU students understand the effects that this override will have on marginalized groups and that they understand what resources are available to them.”