Do you remember the first time you absorbed some kind of shameful stigma about abortion and people who seek it? For most of us, that stigma is so ingrained in American culture and politics that it’s hard to know when it began. Like other kinds of misogyny and sexism, it’s in the air we breathe—and it takes courage to push back.
We are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of activists who bravely fought against those harmful messages. Through the legacy of those who came before us, we can access tenacity and support to sustain our communities.
Speaking of legacy: if you haven’t read up on the game-changing work of Susan Hill, our honoree for the Spring Into Action Gala, take a moment to get to know her—and get inspired. As we celebrate her groundbreaking career, we know that Susan’s bold actions didn’t just change lives during her lifetime: they created the groundwork for generations of activists for reproductive rights and healthcare. At NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, we want to inspire and encourage young people as they grow into lifelong activists for abortion access.
Our Campus Leader program is the cornerstone of our next-generation work. Because abortion stigma starts so early, our justice work does the same. Since 2015, we’ve put a program in place that supports our Campus Leaders as they educate their peers about abortion access, reproductive healthcare, and their rights; reduce abortion stigma and shame; and elevate storytelling as an effective tool in the movement at colleges and universities across North Carolina.
What does that look like in their day-to-day lives? Each team of students tailors their work to their campus’ specific needs and culture, so activities vary. Here are some of the ways that Campus Leaders might engage their communities:
- Organizing panel discussions
- Chalking key messages throughout the campus environment
- Writing Letters to the Editor or op-eds for their campus or local media
- Holding “crisis pregnancy centers” (anti-abortion fake healthcare clinics that lie to patients, shame them, and intentionally mislead them about their reproductive healthcare options) accountable
- Hosting thank-you note-writing parties for abortion providers
- Facilitating abortion Speak Outs
- Distributing condoms alongside sexual health education and information
- Countering and/or shielding students from anti-abortion protestors on campus
- Working with their campuses to increase students’ access to comprehensive, non-judgmental, medically accurate sexual and reproductive healthcare
Much like Susan Hill herself, these leaders are educating and protecting their peers in the present moment, but they’re also building the future of our movement. By encouraging open and honest discussion, fighting stigma, and sparking meaningful action, they’re bringing other activists into the fold—and challenging the harmful messages that often follow women throughout our lives.
When you join us at our Spring Into Action Gala, you’re not just honoring the work that has brought us this far. You’re supporting the efforts that will take us even further. When generations take action together, we’re building a world that works for all of us.
RSVP for our gala on May 20, and support the future of reproductive justice!