Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Holmes Norton urges students to fight for reproductive rights

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Henry Klapper.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D–D.C.) hosted a panel on threats to women’s reproductive health in a talk at GW Hospital Tuesday.

Norton spoke alongside leaders from Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Rights Action League. The group urged the audience to “Fight for our right to choose.”

1. Spreading awareness

Norton said women need to “go on the offensive” in the fight for women’s rights to make choices about their reproductive health. She said being aware was the first step to reforming anti-abortion laws across the nation.

“Nothing is more under attack than reproductive choice in America today,” Norton said.

Norton said that the progress made for women in the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision is quickly being lost following Republican efforts at the state and federal levels.

In 2013, nearly two dozen states enacted 70 anti-abortion regulations ranging from requirements at clinics to bans on insurance coverage of abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“We need to be visible in the fight,” said Norton. “We need evidence of our consciousness.”

Jacqueline Ayers, director of legislative affairs of Planned Parenthood said women need to be vocal about “anything that interferes with our health.”

2. Not just a woman’s problem

Norton said that reproductive health is a broader family issue – not just a woman’s problem.

The panel invited several guest speakers to share their stories on the importance of giving a woman the right to choose.

One speaker was Christy Zink, an assistant writing professor and the director of the University Writing Center. Zink shared her story about the decision she and her husband made to terminate her second pregnancy after she learned her child would be born with a birth defect that would lead to severe pain and constant seizures.

“The choice didn’t come out of laziness, contrary to the common arguments against abortion,” Zink said, adding that she was speaking as a mother at the panel, not a professor.

3. Call to action

Norton repeatedly said pro-choice women need to make themselves visible – and make themselves heard.

“There are disadvantages to social media,” Norton said. “You need to march, you need to demonstrate evidence of your ideas.”

She said students should be “on the front lines” of fighting for reproductive rights. She said she decided to hold the panel at GW because she was “very impressed” with students’ activism around the issue.

Shannon MacLeod, the president of GW Voices for Choices, also spoke at the panel.

“Choice is an issue that directly affects young women,” MacLeod said. “Women are extremely affected by the stigma around abortion in the media and women are paying attention to it. People aren’t aware of what they are facing.”

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet