Panel responds to the fall of Roe v. Wade

Professor of Legal Studies Carolyn Bekhor and Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Communication Studies Judy Holiday speak at the “Reproductive Rights, Values and Voting” panel Wednesday afternoon at the Sky Bridge in the Ludwick Center to celebrate Women's HERstory Month. President Pardis Mahdavi was also one of the four panelists. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez
Professor of Legal Studies Carolyn Bekhor and Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Communication Studies Judy Holiday speak at the “Reproductive Rights, Values and Voting” panel Wednesday afternoon at the Sky Bridge in the Ludwick Center to celebrate Women’s HERstory Month. President Pardis Mahdavi was also one of the four panelists. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

Thatiana Gibbs
Staff Writer

The Office of Civic and Community Engagement held a “Reproductive Rights, Values, and Voting” panel in honor of Women’s History Month on March 20 in the Ludwick Center. 

The event, intended to inform the University community about this important issue, featured four speakers: Pardis Mahdavi, University president; Judy Holiday, associate professor and rhetoric and communication studies chairwoman; Carolyn Bekhor, professor and chairwoman of legal studies; and Melissa King, adjunct professor of anthropology. Each panelist brought her own perspective.

Women’s sexual and reproductive health extends beyond extremist angles and ideological positions. It is an umbrella that encompasses human rights and the right to be free from torture, as well as the right to health, education and privacy, the panelists said.

The topic of reproductive rights is both important and relevant, given the Supreme Court’s 2022 overturning of the constitutional right to abortion. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are integral to gender equity and human rights, the panelists said.

“These frameworks have been siloed,” said Mahdavi, who served for 20 years in the Coalition for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies. “There’s a conversation about reproductive rights over here, there’s a conversation about sexual rights over here, and then there’s human rights over here… There has been a tendency to pull these areas apart, and all that does is weaken the case. That’s a way of dividing conversations that need to be unified.”

Melissa King, associate professor of anthropology and global studies at San Bernardino Valley College and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of La Verne, discusses the significant historical issues around reproductive rights Wednesday in the Ludwick Center Sky Bridge. She highlighted the importance of health care access, bodily autonomy and reproductive health education. Her discussion encouraged students and staff to become advocates for comprehensive reproductive rights within their community. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

“Most of our students do not know what the world is like without access to abortion,” Bekhor said. “I think it’s important to think about abortion –  not just ‘I live in California, so I have (access to) abortion,’ but rather what’s happening to our brothers and sisters around the country because it isn’t just women who are affected, everyone is affected.”

Bekhor went over statistics and data with the audience, showing the current status of access to abortion in the United States. She said the criminalization of abortion in the U.S. has serious implications that Americans ought to be educated about. 

Holiday and King talked about the experiences and impacts of the end of Roe on marginalized groups. 

Holiday said that legislation to limit or eliminate reproductive rights and women’s bodies is about subordinating women. 

“It’s important for us to rally and fight – right now,” Holiday said. 

King added that white supremacy and population control are a driving force in limiting reproductive rights. 

“Native American women … are disproportionately at risk for sexual assault and adolescent pregnancy,” King said. “Reproductive autonomy … is especially important for Native Americans as a group in this country, who are still suffering in the aftermath of mass forced sterilizations, removal of children from the home, and the sexualization of the white supremist gaze.”

Thatiana Gibbs can be reached at thatiana.gibbs@laverne.edu.

Thatiana Gibbs is a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism and a staff writer for the Campus Times. Her enthusiasm lies in research, writing, and effectively delivering captivating information to the public eye.

Abelina J. Nuñez, senior journalism major, is a photography editor for Campus Times and staff photographer for La Verne Magazine. She previously served as LV Life editor, arts editor social media editor and staff writer. In Fall 2023, Nuñez was La Verne Magazine's editor-in-chief and was previously a staff writer as well. Her work can be found on Instagram @abelinajnunezphoto.

1 COMMENT

  1. Abortion is murder. That’s it…how an institution that has christian roots has misguided itself to the point of promoting this kind of ideology

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