Reproductive Rights Access and Advocacy: Recap and Recording:
An online discussion on the current state of reproductive rights in Connecticut and beyond.
On November 2, 2022, the Community Fund for Women & Girls held an online discussion on the current state of reproductive rights in Connecticut and beyond. The conversation was an emphatic call to action in a year when so much has changed.
Karen DuBois-Walton, Board member, Planned Parenthood Votes!
Sally Grossman, Advocate
Amanda Skinner, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Christine Kim, Vice Chair, the Community Fund for Women & Girls
During this time of new limits on reproductive freedom, one of the most powerful things women can do is to tell their own abortion stories, the panelists said. And abortion stories were heard.
Sally Grossman, an advocate who escorts patients into clinics, said having the choice to have an abortion “allowed me to create a business, allowed me to work, and allowed me to raise a family." She said she worries about her five-year-old daughter, and whether she will one day have those options.
“We are in the circumstances we are in right now because we’ve allowed abortion to be shamed and stigmatized,” said Amanda Skinner. “This gives the impression to opponents that they can carve away at access to it … or that it is up for negotiation or debate. Our ability to control our bodies, to make decisions for our families and futures and for ourselves should not be up for debate. We should be talking about abortion, making it very clear that this is health care.”
Skinner noted that nearly one in four women in the United States has had an abortion. “To borrow the words of Renee Bracey Sherman, 'Everybody loves someone who’s had an abortion.’ It’s not something that should live in the shadows.”
The panelists urged attendees to support candidates who support reproductive rights and access for all women. Beyond the election, they also urged women to remain vigilant and get involved in organizations that stand for reproductive justice.
WHAT WE HEARD
On the economic impact of abortion restrictions:
- Abortion bans and limited access to reproductive health care cause the most harm to people who struggle financially; who live in rural communities far from treatment; are members of Black and Brown communities, and of immigrant and LGBTQ+ communities.
- People who are already marginalized by the health care system may have to travel 1,500 to 2,000 miles in some cases to get access to basic health care, which is not an affordable option. It’s not only a matter of affordability; people face other barriers, like a need for childcare or the ability to take time away from work and other travel challenges.
- The CDC estimates that nearly two-thirds of women seeking abortions are already mothers. Families face economic fallout when access is denied.
- Skinner cited the Turnaway Study by Diana Green Foster, which found women who were denied an abortion were four times likely to live below the poverty level and remain there three years later.
- The Institute for Women's Policy Research estimated in 2021 that “state-level abortion restrictions cost state economies about $105 billion annually due to reduced earnings, an impact on labor-force participation, increased job turnover, and time off for women of childbearing age.” And these losses reflected the abortion restrictions that existed before the Dobbs decision.
On the Status of Abortion Care in Connecticut:
- The state legislature passed the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, expanding access for abortion care in Connecticut and modernizing the language to be more gender inclusive. However, panelists noted, the law has yet to be tested, and access remains a challenge for many women in the state due to persistent systemic barriers such as affordability, lack of transportation and childcare, and the ability to take time off from work.
On the Status of Abortion Care in the Nation:
- Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision which stated that abortion was not a protected right under the Constitution, overturning Roe v. Wade and turning abortion regulations back to the states, 18 states have banned or extremely reduced access to abortion.
WHAT WE CAN DO
- Vote! Get galvanized and involved looking toward the 2024 elections.
- Consider running for local office. Encourage and mentor younger women to run for office.
- Share your abortion story. Give voice to your experience.
- Volunteer at Planned Parenthood or other nonprofits that work in the reproductive health, rights and justice ecosystem.
- Engage with Planned Parenthood organizations on social media – like and share posts.
- Donate to organizations like Planned Parenthood so they can continue to provide free and low-cost preventive health care services or consider supporting the National Network of Abortion Funds.
- Learn more about the reproductive justice and abortion justice movements led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) activists fighting for equitable access to reproductive health care and working to ensure everyone can decide when, how and if they want to become a parent and to raise their children in safe, supportive and healthy communities. (See links below.)
RESOURCES FOR YOU
- Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (on social media: @ppsne; or nationally: @PlannedParenthood).
- Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut (on social media: @ppvotesct).
- Black Women’s Health Imperative - Eliminating Barriers to Wellness for Black Women and Girls.
- Sister Song, a Southern based network of individuals and organizations working to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.
The Community Fund for Women & Girls is a component fund of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven that promotes the social and economic advancement of women and girls through strategic philanthropy, grants, advocacy and collaboration.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England provides high quality health care, education and advocacy to advance equity and protect the fundamental right to sexual health and reproductive freedom for all. Plannedparenthood.org
Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut fights for reproductive rights and works to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care for all people. Plannedparenthoodaction.org