Faculty and staff host abortion teach-in for students

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Kelsey Werkheiser / The Bucknellian

Kelsey Werkheiser, Special Features Editor

With the decision regarding the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24.

This landmark case had protected abortion rights since 1973, and in the wake of the new ruling, groups across the United States have organized protests and marches in opposition. 

This movement has made its way to Bucknell’s campus in the form of academic discussion. On Sept. 30 from 12–2 p.m., members of faculty and staff organized for an abortion teach-in at the Rooke Science Center pavilion. 

Erica Delsandro, assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and an organizer of the event, said that the group came together “rather organically as we were preparing to return for the fall semester.”

“We all hold deep convictions about abortion access and reproductive justice,” Delsandro said. “We were committed to showing up for our students and each other in the wake of this disappointing legal paradigm shift.” 

“In part, we wanted to give students space to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision and its consequences as well as demonstrate that members of the campus community are concerned and will support students in their efforts to increase their knowledge, organize a collective response, support each other, etc,” Delsandro said.

Other organizers of the event include Kate Bermingham, Dannah Dennis and Rabbi Jessica Goldberg.

The teach-in began with short talks from a variety of speakers, and then transitioned into group discussions. As attendees sat down at the pavilion tables, they were provided with stickers, informational papers and supplies for making posters as inspired by recent protests. 

Dennis, visiting assistant professor of Sociology & Anthropology, set the tone by talking about abortion access in the context of reproductive justice. 

This talk encouraged attendees to think of ways that reproductive justice expands beyond just
abortion rights. For example, she said reproductive justice also encompasses the right to decide to have a child, disparities in healthcare and a lack of resources for mothers to support their children. 

“I was motivated to help organize this event for a few reasons,” Dennis said. “First, reproductive justice is important to me, not only for personal reasons, but also because it’s a central theme of my work as an anthropologist of gender and citizenship.”

She also said she believes in the power of collective action and working towards a common goal with other like-minded people because it can be a “refreshing and energizing experience.” 

“Finally, as a relatively new member of the faculty at Bucknell, helping to organize this event allowed me to connect with people across the university and to feel more like a member of a community,” Dennis said. 

Bermingham, assistant professor of Political Science, focused her talk on the legal context of the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision. She explained the wide-scale implications of the recent decision, and also elaborated on other cases besides Roe v. Wade that had set precedent for abortion rights and access. 

Amber Brown, a representative from Planned Parenthood spoke about the abortion options that the organization offers. She also spoke about how there are often variations in laws from one location to another, which affects what services they are able to offer based on where a mother is in the timeline of the pregnancy. 

Rabbi Goldberg, Jewish Chaplain and another organizer of the event, knew that she wanted to be involved with the event because her “tradition compels [her] to pursue justice.”

“Throughout the planning process, I found so much comfort and inspiration in creating something powerful with wise, generous, fierce colleagues,” Goldberg said. “I know this is just the beginning and we will continue to gather partners amongst the faculty, staff, and student body.”

As the organizers had hoped, the event attracted a variety of attendees that were just as passionate about the event as they were. Iona Pitkin ’25, an attendee of the event, found the talk especially relevant in the context of being a college student. 

 “It is unclear if Bucknell student insurance provides abortion resources, and the general process is confusing,” Pitkin said. “It was refreshing to have the speaker from Planned Parenthood go through the process completely, clear up any misconceptions, and overall provide clarity… This is necessary foundational learning that must happen for the changes that need to be made.”

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