The following is a guest contribution and reflects the authors’ views alone. For information on how to submit a piece to the Opinion section, click here.
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and in the aftermath of this decision, 20 states enacted laws either banning or restricting abortion. In the past year alone, at least 61 clinics, Planned Parenthood facilities, and doctors’ offices have stopped offering abortions. In states where abortion remains legal, additional clinics have opened to increase access to the reproductive right, but not without steadfast resistance from anti-abortion groups.
On this one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice (PSRJ) calls on students to join the fight for universal reproductive rights across the country and in our Princeton community.
Firstly, it is important to note that the bans put in place since Roe do not eliminate abortions, but rather force those seeking an abortion to travel across state lines, find abortion pills online, or turn to unsafe alternatives. Moreover, abortions themselves have not decreased significantly since the ruling. Nationally, abortions fell only about three percent in the months after the ruling. States where abortion is legal, such as Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina, have reported thousands of more abortions since the overturning. Importantly, North Carolina does have a 12-week gestational limit and Florida has a 15-week ban in effect and Gov. Ronald DeSantis passed a six-week ban in April, awaiting review by the Florida Supreme Court. During this time, some states have worked to strengthen abortion protections, New Jersey included. New Jersey is a sanctuary state that protects both abortion patients and providers against prosecution for abortions. The state has seen a rise of seven percent in legal abortions in the past year and is reported to be the state performing the sixth most abortions nationally. Princeton students have the privilege to not only live in a state where they have abortion access, but a state which is fighting to uphold and expand this access. Therefore, students have a responsibility to use their privilege to support and amplify the voices of those facing abortion restrictions and bans.
The closing of abortion clinics limits access not only to abortions, but also to other reproductive healthcare services. Entire communities are now losing access to critical healthcare resources such as preventative options including contraception. Immediately after the reversal of Roe, there was an increase in demand for emergency contraception and other forms of long-lasting birth control as people feared that access to contraception would soon face restrictions or become too inconvenient to obtain. The overturning of Roe is an attack on all forms of reproductive healthcare and has tremendous implications on public health — we must all be active in this fight.
PSRJ has expanded efforts since the overturning of Roe to make sure that campus knows that reproductive healthcare is not just available to students but also protected and championed by their peers.
This past spring, PSRJ worked to reinstitute our completely anonymous, contactless, and cost-free Emergency Contraceptive (EC) Hotline available to all students on campus in need of Plan B. In an emergency, a student can text the hotline at 609-250-2454 and a PSRJ volunteer will answer the request and fulfill the delivery usually within the same day. Plan B is also available at McCosh Health Center for around $30 and at pharmacies off-campus for around $40–$50. McCosh can also prescribe and dispense Ella, an emergency contraceptive pill with similar functions to Plan B.
In terms of abortion, McCosh offers options for counseling and referrals for pregnancies. Through their connections with local abortion providers, nurses and doctors at McCosh are able to connect abortion-seeking students to a network of support.
Princeton students are vital in the fight for reproductive justice. Simply talking about and expressing support for abortion helps to humanize the often vilified health procedure. PSRJ actively participated in this conversation this spring by holding our inaugural Sex-Ed Week, which focused on broadcasting unconventional and unorthodox sex-related topics like LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education, the female orgasm, and abortion through workshops, conversations, and even a game night with sex-ed Jeopardy.
It’s also essential to protect our abortion justice ecosystem. This means listening to reproductive justice leaders, donating to local abortion funds and clinics, and providing on-the-ground support to people seeking abortion care with services such as transportation or clinic escorting. For instance, in our Sex-Ed Week event with Roxanne Sutocky, the director of Community Engagement at The Women’s Centers, we learned about what the Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey does to advocate for and protect reproductive justice within the state. Students can also seek information through resources such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, New Jersey Abortion Access Fund, ACCESS: a podcast about abortion, rePROs Fight Back: a podcast on all things repro, Abortion Out Loud, Shout Your Abortion, We Testify, and AbortionFinder.org. The most important thing is to stay informed and continue supporting: it’s time to de-stigmatize conversations surrounding reproductive rights, to learn about and share abortion facts and stories, and to express appreciation and thanks for abortion providers.
On campus, students can join PSRJ and become core volunteers to support the continuing availability of our initiatives — such as the EC Hotline, Contraceptive Access Committee, and Sex-Ed Week — to the Princeton student body. In the upcoming fall semester, PSRJ will work with our Planned Parenthood Affiliate Chapter in accomplishing their outreach goals, including expanding their work with voter education.
Fighting for abortion access in a post-Roe world is a moral imperative that needs active community effort and contribution by its supporters. In New Jersey, and exceedingly so at Princeton, reproductive rights are amplified and safeguarded, making it even more important for Princeton students to use their privilege to help fight for U.S. abortion rights across the country. Everyone should be awarded the reproductive healthcare options available to Princeton students. Reproductive rights, and specifically, abortion access, is a community responsibility. PSRJ needs your support in the fight for justice.
Charlotte Pfenning serves on PSRJ’s Executive Board as Tech & Social Media Chair. She is a rising sophomore from Fairfield, Connecticut. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Isabelle Clayton serves on PSRJ’s Executive Board as co-Vice President. She is a rising junior from Princeton, New Jersey. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. PSRJ can be found at @princetonreprojustice on Instagram.