‘Hands off our bodies’: QU activists protest SCOTUS opinion to overturn abortion protections

Katie Langley, News Editor

Julia Giblin, associate professor of anthropology, makes her way to the Piazza with other protestors on May 4, 2022. (Daniel Passapera)

Chants of “tell the Supreme Court, ‘hands off our bodies,’” “my body, my choice” and “when abortion rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back” were heard across Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel campus May 4.

Umbrellas in hand in the morning rainfall, students and faculty marched from the steps of the Arnold Bernhard Library, to the Student Center Piazza and across the Quad to speak out against the restriction of the right to abortion. 

“Rain or shine, we’re here for bodily autonomy,” said Laura Willis Calo, professor of health and strategic communications. “I’m really happy to see a mix of faculty staff and students out here, and I look forward to continuing to protest with like-minded individuals.” 

The protest came after a Supreme Court draft leaked to Politico May 2, which shows the court’s initial opinion to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established the constitutional right to abortion. 

Over 50 people gathered to share their opinions on the restriction of abortion in many states. If the Supreme Court opinion holds true, it would allow these bans to continue. 

The protest was organized by professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies Lauren Sardi in collaboration with sophomore political science major Alyssa Arends and other students and faculty from the women’s and gender studies department. The organizers encouraged multicultural and political action student organizations, such as the Latino Cultural Society and Quinnipiac Political Science Association, to post about the protest on their social media and encourage their members to join.

 

Sardi said that the group came out to protest to ensure that future generations retain their rights and to “not walk our rights back 50 years” by accepting abortion restrictions. 

“(Lawmakers) don’t seem to recognize that men make up 50% of how a pregnancy happens— sometimes even more if it’s not a woman’s choice— and nobody’s putting any kind of blame or holding (men) responsible in any way, shape or form, and I think that that clearly shows they don’t really care about what’s going on with babies, they just want to punish women,” Sardi said. 

Students and faculty received many opportunities to share their stories and reasons for protesting during the rally. Genesis Paulino, a sophomore sociology major, spoke to the protestors about supporting people of color and the role of intersectionality in the fight for abortion. 

“If your voice isn’t intersectional, it’s not a real revolution,” Paulino said during her speech in front of the library, dressed in a “this pussy grabs back” t-shirt. 

“I think about how hard it is, the decision to think about having a child, because I think about the inequalities that are here in the United States, and how it feels impossible for me (as a woman of color) to survive here, let alone a child,” Paulino told The Chronicle. “And I think about if I were ever to become pregnant, and how if I potentially didn’t want to be pregnant, how that right would be taken away.” 

Many speakers at the protest raised the concern that abortion bans would lead to dangerous botched abortions. Around 45% of abortions worldwide are considered “unsafe” by the World Health Organization. Unsafe abortions are a leading cause of maternal death and complications, but are preventable with proper health systems, according to WHO.

This sentiment was shared by professor of history Larissa Pitts, who spoke to the crowd about the history of unsafe abortion, pointing out the protester’s signs depicting crossed-out clothes hangers, a common tool for forceful abortion. 

Willis Calo said that the issue of limiting abortion is essentially about inequality. She encouraged people who need to seek an abortion and do not have the financial resources or geographic location to get one to utilize abortion fund networks

“There will be difference in how (abortion bans are) felt, that folks with means will still be able to travel to places where safe abortions are available, and currently, folks without means are struggling to get the funds to make that happen today, this isn’t even about something else gets overturned, we have an issue of inequality across the nation right now,” Willis Calo said. 

A number of male students and professors also came to the protest in a show of allyship. One of them was Ryan Hagerman, a sophomore political science major and SGA class senator. 

“I’m here because I want to support all of the people that are here today and all the people across the country who have to give birth against their will and who want to fight for safe abortions for all,” Hagerman said. 

Ambar Pagan, a senior political science major who attended the protest, said that recent pro-choice protests represent an important moment in American history. 

“Not only is this domestic politics, but this also has to involve global politics,” Pagan said. “I think it’s important us as the young generation to really speak on the things that are happening, because not only is this going to affect abortion, the next issue may be gender equality, it may be gay rights. So I think that if we speak now, it is an important moment to do so, and it’s also about having this be a collective effort in which our voices are heard.”