Reproductive Rights Motivated Many Students to Vote
By: Clarita Orosco, Mason Votes 2022 Online Editorial Team
This past summer, on June 24th and after 50 years of precedent, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark case known as Roe v. Wade. Protests were held in DC, as well as all over the nation.
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not in any way prevent states from outlawing abortion, contradicting the 1973 ruling, in which Warren E. Burger’s court ruled that one of the rights covered by the 10th amendment was a right to privacy, and that discussions between patients and doctors about abortions were protected from state interference under that right. The current court under Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that no right to privacy is explicitly laid out in the text of the constitution, so the right to abortion is not federally protected, and states can pass laws banning or protecting it as they see fit.
As soon as the Dobb’s case ruling was announced, Mason’s Women and Gender Studies (WGST) Center released a statement to, “offer solidarity and comfort to all who needed it,” said Holly Mason, Associate Director of WGST, in an email.
They then focused on creating safe spaces virtually and in-person where, “students, faculty, and staff” could discuss the issue comfortably.
During these meetings Holly saw that, “Students wanted to know who they can talk to, where they can turn for mobilization/protest/and support, and they wanted to know what related resources exist at Mason and in the surrounding areas.”
On November 8th, Student Media, Mason Cable Network, and Mason Votes conducted an exit poll survey in front of Merten Hall where students went to cast their in-person ballots on Election Day. It found that “Abortion,” was the top concern for 22% of respondents.
“Republicans have been using abortion as their playing card for years and years,” said Molly Sullivan (CS ‘24). “As have Democrats. All the Democrats are like, ‘We’re going to codify Roe.’ and the Republicans have said ‘We’re going to shut down Roe.’”
Sullivan is one of the co-presidents of GenerationAction, also known as GenAct, a group on campus that enables activists to raise public awareness about reproductive health and women’s rights. She is also the VP of American Medical Women’s Association, and holds other e-board positions in other student groups.
Even though she has voted consistently in the past she finds this year’s election was history making.
She voted not only for herself but also in the honor of those, “that will be affected by this change in regulation, in marginalized low-income communities.”
Alex Elliott (SIS ‘24) was “really frustrated with the direction of the United States,” when the Dobb’s case ruling was announced.
“It’s going to affect me, but as a white cisgender women, it’s going to impact more marginalized communities,” she said.
Even though she is a committed voter, the overturning of Roe v. Wade brought a new topic to the table when she went out to vote.
Something both Sullivan and Elliot want is to spread awareness and educate others about safe sex contraceptives along with debunking the misinformation that surrounds abortion.
Learn more about on-campus health care and resources through Student Health Services: shs.gmu.edu/healthed/birthcontrol
Photo by: Ron Aira/Creative Services