GSRS and the Office of DJS Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling
On June 24, 2022, we woke up to a different world: a world in which a majority of sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices had turned their backs on more than fifty years of legal precedent to dismantle the constitutional right to privacy and bodily autonomy. The SCOTUS ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has created a frightening new reproductive landscape. Abortion care is now illegal in nine states in the U.S., and 17 additional states are expected to ban or significantly limit abortion access in the coming months.
These historic changes to federal and state law will affect close to half of all women and menstruating people living in the United States. Yet we know that these effects will not be distributed or experienced equally. The Dobbs v. Jackson ruling will disproportionately harm communities of color, people living in poverty, and trans and non-binary people.
This ruling is about much more than what Andrea Smith calls the “binary stalemate” of a woman’s right to choose versus the protection of fetal life. It is about whose rights are deemed worthy of protection under the U.S. Constitution. It is about how pregnant people and healthcare providers are targeted for criminal prosecution or civil penalty. It is about the failures of our nation-state to support all parents’ and all children’s access to equitable healthcare and other basic human needs like food and shelter.
We, as faculty and staff of the Gender, Sexuality and Race Studies Program and the Center for Diversity, Justice, & Sustainability, reject this wrongful and persecutory decision. We affirm the basic human right for all people to determine their own lives and govern their own bodies. We support a reproductive political movement that goes beyond the pro-choice / pro-life divide to instead embrace reproductive justice for all.
Scholars and activists Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger define reproductive justice as:
(1) the right not to have a child; (2) the right to have a child; and (3) the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments. In addition, reproductive justice demands [(4)] sexual autonomy and gender freedom for every human being.
As educators in academic, co-curricular, and community settings at PLU, we believe that education is an essential tool for both navigating and actively fighting back against this new world. We encourage members of our community to seek out accurate sources of news and information on reproductive justice and healthcare access, such as the Guttmacher Institute, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Rewire News Group. In turn, we must attend specifically to the ways in which this ruling intersects with histories of white supremacy, homophobia, and anti-trans culture and policy. Take a look at the following articles and video resources to learn more:
- Michelle Goodwin’s recent op-ed in The New YorkTimes explains the Court’s misreading of the ways the outlawing of “involuntary servitude” and defense of “privacy and freedom” in the U.S. Constitution in fact protects individuals’ bodily autonomy.
- This conversation between queer and feminist law professor Katherine Franke and womanist theologian Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas provides a helpful contextualization of the ruling.
- A well-curated collection of content and resources centering trans experience can be found on Translash’s Trans-Affirming Guide to Roe v. Wade.
Finally, look out for a PLU faculty teach-in on reproductive justice in the works for late September, co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Studies, the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Race Studies, and the Office of Diversity, Justice and Sustainability.
For many in the PLU community, issues of pregnancy, abortion, and contraception can bring up difficult feelings, questions, and memories. Some may find themselves critically reflecting on their political and spiritual beliefs; others may be experiencing new fears; and many are having complicated conversations with family and friends.
As part of a university community affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), we recognize ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s recent call for care and personal discernment. We encourage everyone to practice self-care and self-reflection in the ways that are most meaningful to them.
- Over the summer you are welcome to connect with Pastor Jen Rude to discuss the ruling, your own thoughts, feelings and experiences, and faith questions. Please reach out either via email (email@example.com), via gcal appointment, or through https://jenrude.youcanbook.me/
- Although the PLU Counseling Center is closed for July, Lute Telehealth (a 24/7/365 service) is available to students all summer. In addition, the Couple and Family Therapy Center, operated by the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, is a free therapy resource available for any currently enrolled student. Anyone interested in making a teletherapy appointment there can contact the clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-535-8782.
- PLU’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free, confidential emotional support for faculty and staff.
- Finally, the PLU Health Center provides counseling about sexual and reproductive health issues in a confidential, supportive environment. If you are interested in learning more, you can find information on how to make an appointment here.
We look forward to being in community with all of you upon our return to campus in September.
Jenny M. James, Chair of Gender, Sexuality and Race Studies
Angie Hambrick, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Justice and Sustainability