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There are 10 comments on Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Ending 50 Years of Abortion Rights

  1. What follows is a reply I sent to President Brown this morning in response to his letter to the BU Community regarding the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade yesterday. In it I propose the creation of a new, interdepartmental and intercollegiate Center for Feminist Advocacy and Research that will reach beyond the campus of Boston University to push for real change in the public sphere:

    Dear President Brown,

    Thank you for your letter of support for reproductive rights at this terribly discouraging moment in our nation’s history. I was impressed and moved by it, and felt proud to belong to this community, but I was also disappointed by your last sentence.

    We can and must do more than “only hope” to regain and preserve a woman’s right to control her own body. And we should do more than just align our curricula and health services to support this right “to the extent allowed under Massachusetts law.” Isn’t that we’re already doing? And we see the result.

    Boston University now has a Center for Antiracist Research. Isn’t it time to do the same for women’s rights? Isn’t it time to act, not “only hope”—to protest and resist, to advocate and educate, not just on our campus but beyond, in the public sphere? To build coalitions with other colleges and universities, and with organizations like Planned Parenthood, so as to promote legislation and policies that will achieve real and permanent change? We, as a community, must act, not just “hope,” if we are to reverse the misogynistic backlash tearing down all that our society has built over the last half century to guarantee equal rights for women of every class, race, and sexual orientation.

    I’m not sure precisely what I have in mind, but something on the order of a Center for Feminist Advocacy and Research that would draw on and coordinate resources from departments, schools, and colleges throughout the university (CAS, Theology, Law, Education, Social Work, and Questrom come immediately to mind) with a mandate to do everything possible to restore and advance women’s rights.

    “Everything possible” should include the following:

    ADVOCATE legislation and policy changes to this end, at every level—local, state, and federal—and in every state where women’s reproductive freedom is under threat, with the long term goal—perhaps decades-long–of preparing to re-introduce an Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

    PROMOTE the health of women throughout the nation—not just in Massachusetts, but also and especially in states that, even as I write, have already outlawed abortion under any and all circumstances and threaten to deny contraceptive services to their female population, placing women’s health and, in many cases, their very lives in danger.

    UNITE with sister campuses across the country, but again, especially in states where abortion has been banned, to reach out and offer support services to women seeking to terminate their pregnancies—services like counseling, referrals, accurate information, and yes, even transportation to abortion clinics in other states. (Picture, for example, helping to organize a student volunteer equivalent to the evacuation at Dunkirk!)

    RESIST the growing influence of right-wing religious zealotry on public policy and law-making by reaching out to liberal-minded religious denominations, e.g., Unitarian Universalist, UCC, Reform Judaism–and to like-minded congregants of all religions, denominations, and branches, so as to coordinate efforts to build a spiritual foundation for supporting women’s reproductive rights that can counterbalance the current monopolization of public discourse on this issue by Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists.

    And, of course, EDUCATE: not just BU students, but students in classrooms at every level, from pre-school to high-school, in cities, towns, and villages across the country, by devising and distributing curricula specifically focusing on women’s reproductive freedom and their dignity as persons.

    I’m about to retire. Fall 2022 will be my last teaching semester after more than 40 satisfying and fulfilling years here at Boston University. In three months, I will turn 73. Over the last two decades of my life I have watched as nearly everything my generation has achieved for the cause of social justice and equal rights has been eroded by forces determined to destroy them. If even one of these proposals should be implemented in what remains of my life, I will die knowing that those efforts were not entirely in vain.

    Thank you for your time and attention!

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Rzepka

    Charles Rzepka
    Professor of English
    Boston University

    1. You are an inspiration to us all! Thank you for the words of wisdom, for standing for students’ rights over the years, for fighting for access to healthcare for all, and for supporting this progressive BU administration. I hope other BU faculty will carry the torch of progress and plurality of opinions and tolerance as well as you do.

  2. Really the ruling means nothing because individual states can still legalize abortion if they so choose. It just means pro-abortion forces will have to work through the democratic process. That shouldn’t be a problem in a democracy.

    1. Normally I would agree. I think Roe was not a good ruling as a legal matter. Sound legal reasoning to support SCOTUS rulings is extremely important for rule of law and the legitimacy of courts in general. Roe v Wade decision invented rights that the Constitution simply does not address in any way. In that sense it should be left up to each state’s democratic process.

      However there is a big BUT here that this article mentioned that I did not think of: nothing in Dobbs ruling prevents the Federal Congress from outlawing abortion completely from conception on down for ALL states! This is tricky because while that might be legal and maybe would not technically violate the Constitution, it would in my opinion be an insane law. I say maybe would not violate the Constitution because actually it might be violating state’s rights which are protected by …? Need a real Constitutional scholar to help me out here.

      I think most Americans are somewhere in the middle when it comes to abortion – extremists notwithstanding. I think the vast majority of Americans would not agree with banning abortion from conception or early pregnancy. I am one of those people. Banning abortion at conception is to me pure religion and extreme. We need to keep religion out of this debate and we need to keep Church and State separate. I think most Americans begin to have doubts about the morality and ethics of abortion in later stages of pregnancy. I am one of those people. I think most would agree with banning it – with exceptions – in the 3rd trimester and definitely at birth, as MOST developed countries do. In fact if you listen only to extremists, you would never be exposed to the fact that the US is one of only a handful of countries (*north Korea and China being two others) where abortion is legal up to the time of birth!

      Here are the facts from Wikipedia on abortion in world perspective. It shows that most if not all European countries have MORE restrictions on abortion than most US states!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law

      You’d never know this if you only listen to American abortion activists.

      So yeah this issue is tricky and complicated. I wish extremists on both sides were not driving the debate. It seems like it’s a less insane topic in other parts of the developed world where people kind of just adopt middle of the road laws on this without screaming bloody murder at each other.

  3. Both your article and President Brown’s statement speak about women. Trans and non-binary people get and need abortions too. The reproductive rights community has shifted their language to be LGBTQ inclusive, such as pregnant people, people with uteruses, and women, trans, and non-binary people, why hasn’t BU? After President Brown’s horrific double misgendering of a non-binary student at commencement, I would think BU would try to do and be better and demonstrate your care about the trans and non-binary BU students and alums. Many of us are upset about the Supreme Court decision. You don’t have to enact more harm in your exclusionary language.

    1. Please accept our apologies for the exclusionary language. Yes, birthing people would be a much better and more adequate term. We all need to work more on our linguistics sensitivity. Let’s hope in time, after a now certain electoral victory this fall, the SCOTUS ruling will be overrun and we can focus again on promoting equity, and keep advancing the rights of the LGBTQ community.

  4. Thank you Chuck for your terrific suggestions and to President Brown. BU has a long tradition of ground-breaking eduction for women and of social activism on a number of issues. These do stem from a religious foundation that sometimes gets overlooked these days – unfortunately, in my opinion as an old alumnus and former campus pastor-associate chaplain sponsored by what is now the United Church of Christ. Many good wishes Church in your “retirement” (there is no such thing)!- Dick Yeo, CAS’55

  5. Based on this piece, and President Brown’s letter, there’s no room for the right-to-life at BU. I’m embarrassed to be an alumnus, to see what my Alma mater has become. It’s yet another dull progressive echo chamber where dissent is quashed.
    Abortion is inhumane. This is a step forward for humanity. As for BU, I’ll have nothing further to do with it.

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