Roe v. Wade remembered 40 years later
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 23:01
The Women’s Center joined forces with Planned Parenthood to present a vigil in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States and inadvertently brought women’s reproductive rights into the political spotlight for years to come. The event honored not only the court case, but Savita Halappavanar, the young woman who died in Ireland this past October after being denied a lifesaving abortion during a fatal miscarriage. The death of this young woman sparked protest around the world and ignited a movement in Ireland to change the laws dictating the circumstances of abortions. To pay homage to the legislation and Ms. Halappavanar, the Women’s Center and Planned Parenthood orchestrated an evening of speakers, musical and dance performances and artwork. The event also included the grave yard set up outside the Student Union to commemorate those women who have died as the result of an illegal abortion or no access to an abortion. A Minor started the event after opening remarks from two of UConn’s CampusAction Planned parenthood interns, MariChris Cariaga and Cassidy Kushner and a Planned Parenthood representative, Gretchen Raffa, with two songs: “It Don’t Have to Change” by John Legend and “Sunrise” by Norah Jones. Both songs eloquently captured the theme of reproductive rights with the mellow harmonies and deep messages.
The next group to present was LAVA, or Lauching Activism through Art. The group is dedicated to creating artwork that serves a greater purpose and ignites activism. The group had brought three pieces to display and discuss that were relevant to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The first was created from a broken industrial looking mega phone and had been filled with paper flowers of every color imaginable. As LAVA president, Nicole Salamone explained, “the broken down megaphone, signifies loss of voice women get after abortion laws, flowers and leaves represent how women should continue to speak up.” The last two pieces were paintings that conveyed the sense of ownership of the female body and the struggle with restrictive female reproductive health legislation.
After LAVA’s poignant presentation, attendees were asked to close their eyes in a moment of silence dedicated towards all of the women affected by abortion laws, particularly the women who have died because of illegal abortions. Following the moment of heavy silence, the video “Roe is Here For Good” was screened to provide background information on the history of women’s reproductive rights in the United States. The film called for people in this day and age who have not had to face the trials of women before Roe vs. Wade to “appreciate doctors and clinicians who take care of women every day.” The film was followed with a brief discussion led by Planned Parenthood about the significance of the case today and the implications of illegal abortions around the world. Raffa reminded students in attendance that we live in a state and a country where abortion is a legal right, but many people globally and within the United States are not so lucky. Raffa emphasized that in some states do not have abortion clinics and many healthcare plans do not cover reproductive services.
Following Raffa’s interesting discussion, Notes Over Storrs performed two selections, “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and “Stand Up” by Melee, before welcoming UConn Poetic Release to the stage. Members of the group performed abortion and women’s rights themed performance poetry to close the evening, leaving audience members with more than just a little food for thought.
Planned Parenthood Campus Activists and the event organizers, Cassidy Kushner, an 8th- semester communication disorders major, and MariChris Cariaga, and 8th-semester nursing major, were both feeling proud at the end of the event. “The most empowering part of this was being able to communicate a message that is taboo in society and have the UConn community support this event.” Kushner agreed saying, “It’s exciting to see all the groups come together with art and music.” When asked about the most important aspect of the event, Kushner said, “For me, its reminding people that we are still remembering how important Roe vs. Wade was. It’s easy to pass 40 years and forget, teenagers are growing up in society and take this right for granted.”