Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that the Constitution of the United States does not confer any right to an abortion, overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision effectively returned the power of abortion regulation back to the state legislatures and elected officials.
The day the decision was released, The Plainsman posted a survey, allowing Auburn students and community members to voice their thoughts on the subject. From the survey, 86% of the responses were anonymous. To present a holistic view, we have included quotes from these anonymous responses as well as named interviewed sources from both sides of the issue. The anonymous quotes are in italics at the beginning of each subhead for clarity.
The pro-life perspective
When I woke up to the news that Roe v. Wade was overturned this morning I cried tears of joy. FINALLY! FINALLY! - Anonymous
This is a monumental step forward in creating a culture that ends oppression and stands for equality and justice FOR ALL humans! - Anonymous
I am pro-life. Before you judge and start reading please give me the same respect that I personally feel I have been giving to others…. -Anonymous
“For the past three weeks, pretty much since the beginning of June, I have been refreshing the supreme court website, beginning at 10 o’clock, every 10 minutes on every decision day that the court has announced,” said Gwen Charles, senior in economics. “So I saw the decision come out at exactly 10:10 on Friday.”
Charles was crying for a solid 20 minutes, tears of joy, she said. She was overjoyed and thanked God for what she considered to be a miracle.
Charles was an officer of Students for Life last year, a non-profit anti-abortion organization. Her primary job this past year was organizing a trip that the group took to Washington D.C. to participate in March for Life, an annual demonstration in which pro-life supports gather to "celebrate life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and every moment in between," according to marchforlife.org
As a member of Students for Life, Charles said her biggest goal was to change minds and hearts, to be willing to listen and ask questions while also providing her own perspective.
That perspective is “staunchly pro-life,” she said, staunchly anti-abortion.
“I think, for as long as I can remember, I have cared about the issue of abortion,” Charles said. “I never really understood why it was really a thing.”
She said she thinks a lot of it had to do with the fact that she grew up around a lot of adopted families, families who were longing for a child, while at the same time there were children not being given the chance to live.
“The older I got, the more that I understood about abortion, the more I understand the dignity and humanity of every person from conception, the more I cared about protecting those innocent children’s lives,” Charles said.
Another reason she's passionate about the cause, she said, is because she really does care about women.
“I think there is this lie that, oh, I’ve heard so many, you’re not pro-life, you’re pro-birth, you’re anti-woman,” Charles said. “And that’s just not the case. Pro-lifers for the past 50 years under Roe have been working to support women to have their children.”
Increasing access and making sure certain resources are available for women is something that the country really needs to work on, Charles said. That means ensuring that there are various infrastructures for women of all backgrounds, incomes, living in urban or rural areas to safely deliver children, and ensuring that there are hospitals in rural communities with maternity wards.
“There are tons of crisis pregnancy centers,” Charles said. “These clinics, federally qualified health centers offer things like mammograms, ultrasounds, pregnancy, STD testing and more holistic care. So, let’s counsel a woman who’s found herself pregnant, and she’s scared, let’s provide her with a parenting course, let’s provide her with community.”
Love, support and community. That’s what Charles thinks the country should be offering women, instead of stigmatizing them. And it’s what she said the pro-life movement has been doing for the last 50 years.
“And now that Roe is gone, we will continue to do that, and do it even more,” Charles said.
Charles works on the pro-life issue at a non-profit in Washington, D.C. About 20 minutes after the decision was announced, after the tears of joy, she went to the Supreme Court to celebrate with pro-life friends and allies.
Lots of tears, lots of hugging, lots of prayers and thanking God, she said.
The pro-choice perspective
First and foremost, it’s absolute bullshit. - Anonymous
When I woke up this morning, I made my first cup of coffee as an autonomous individual. However, by the time I was pouring my second I became a being at the whim of my government. - Anonymous
I am a patriot and appreciate the privilege I have to be an American. I love being an American and respect those who fight for our freedoms and liberties. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to support the ideology that America is the greatest country in the world…. - Anonymous
For those that consider themselves pro-choice or pro-abortion, the scene after 9 a.m. Friday, June 24 looked kind of the same.
Lots of tears, lots of hugging, lots of calling friends and family. Lots of what-to-do-next, lots of questions.
“It was more like I woke up and my roommates and I were hanging out, and we got a notification,” said Brooklyn Langford, sophomore in neuroscience. “And then, 10 minutes later my grandma called me.”
Shock—was the initial emotion, but Langford said she doesn’t think it’s worn off yet.
Her grandmother, great-grandmother and some great aunts and uncles were in the fight for Roe back in the day, she said. Her grandmother went to a couple of protests when she could, and has been going to protests recently.
“You could just kind of hear the tears in her voice,” Langford said. “My roommates were upset. I was upset. One of them was really angry, the other was curling into herself. I just didn’t know what to do.”
Storm Cook, a second-year graduate student in social work, was at work in the Auburn mall, when a co-worker came in and asked if she had seen the news.
“I just, immediately nothing made sense to me about it,” Cook said. “I’m notorious for being super in the middle of things, I can argue most things, but this is just something that I’m having a hard time seeing another side to.”
Cook is pro-choice, she said, simply because she doesn’t think she’s special enough to care what other people do in their own lives.
“I’m definitely just do whatever you want to do, as long as it’s not harming someone else,” Cook said. “And that can be a whole other thing — like when does life actually begin?”
Some believe it starts at conception, others believe it starts at birth, others believe it's somewhere in between. Cook and many others think abortion should be something that is between a woman and her doctor.
“I think it’s a family’s decision to decide for themselves,” said Kelli Thomson, assistant research professor in the department of psychology. “That they have the resources or are financially, emotionally, socially stable enough to take care or bring a life into this world.”
Even if there are resources available or becoming available to mothers now, Cook and Thompson both agree that it’s not a simple thing to ask someone to bring a life into this world.
“It still costs over $1,500 to give birth in a modern hospital,” Thompson said. “That’s with or without insurance. If you have a complication it could cost thousands and thousands over. And we don’t even have universal healthcare. It’s also completely ignorant of the fact that pregnancy is still a leading cause of death for women in developed countries.”
Thompson also mentioned that although many present adoption as an option for those who don’t want a child, the foster care system in the United States, and Alabama especially, is overrun already.
“We know because we run studies on them that they are more likely to end up in poverty, in jail, homeless,” Thompson said. “So that’s the current functioning of our foster and adoptive care system.”
Thompson sits on a blue folding chair, her "KEEP ABORTION LEGAL" sign resting on her thigh as she talks and gestures, shouts and gets angry. The crowd that had gathered at Toomer’s Corner from 5-7 p.m. that day had thinned a little; a few more people stood around, holding signs, waving at the cars honking and zooming by, ignoring the cars flipping them off and cursing at them.
Someone posted online that there was a pro-choice protest in Auburn at the corner for the July 4 weekend. Crowds had already been gathering on and off since June 24, so this day was no different.
“I’m really worried because they listed, one of the rights that they’re coming after next, birth control,” Thompson said. “Not at all for any birthing reasons, I need birth control hormones, estrogen, to regulate my ovaries so that I don’t get cysts. Like if I’m off my birth control medicine for a day or two, I can get a cyst and this can be life-threatening if they burst.”
This is the concern that weighs heavy on the minds of many pro-choice or pro-abortion Americans: what's next?
“I feel scared for the future because I don’t know where this ends,” Cook said. “And that worries me. You know, if you can regulate this, what else can you do?”
One of the people who are still at the corner comes over and asks Thompson if they can use the chalk to write on the ground. Thompson brightly says yes, and the girl grabs a piece of yellow chalk that matches her shirt, and begins writing "MY BODY, MY CHOICE".
“I’m afraid that we’ll have to experience some suffering,” Thompson said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t take us as long to get back to progress as we did. But I do think it’s clear that Amercians need to learn their lessons the hard way.”
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Destini Ambus, senior in journalism, pursuing a minor in sociology is the editor-in-chief of The Auburn Plainsman.