45 Years After Roe v Wade, Here's Why Advocating For Reproductive Justice Still Matters To Me

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Advocacy is integral to my identity. It is incredibly important to me to fight for causes I care about and stand up for what is right, and I take every opportunity to pursue those objectives. Reproductive justice matters to me because everyone deserves the right to bodily autonomy. There are multiple intersectional systems at work preventing people from accessing the healthcare they need and the quality of life they deserve. I have had the chance to participate in reproductive justice-related activism in multiple ways, and while I have given my time and energy to advocating for reproductive justice through activism, my work has also enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined. 

As president of my university chapter of Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (UGRE), I plan and participate in events that promote education and awareness about reproductive justice on campus, and I advocate for RJ-related policies including comprehensive sexual education in Alabama and access to free condoms and free or reduced cost STI testing for students. As Chair of the clinic escorting group at my local abortion clinic, I create schedules and make sure shifts are filled, facilitate trainings for new defenders and escort at the clinic four hours a day, five days a week to protect patients and their companions from harassment by anti-choice protestors. I also am the Treasurer for the Yellowhammer Fund, an abortion fund serving all abortion-seekers in Alabama, and I manage the fund's finances to ensure we are best able to combat the various barriers that abortion-seekers in Alabama face. I have made a difference in my community through my reproductive justice-related activism since moving to Alabama for college and I feel grateful to be able to make an impact with one of my favorite causes. While it often feels like an uphill battle in my deeply red state, my work is still incredibly rewarding.

As an activist, it is vital to be able to look on the bright side and find joy in the little things, rather than get bogged down when it seems like our voices are being ignored. Though every day presents a unique set of challenges, the number of rewarding moments is much greater than the number of disappointments. I love learning first-hand about why the work I am doing matters, like when I listen to the testimony of a patient at the abortion clinic while I escort.

After weeks or months of calling and writing, it is a wonderful relief when representatives change their vote or when a court strikes down a harmful policy. Even in my daily life I am encouraged by friends thanking me for my efforts or asking me how they can get involved in the activism I do. While I participate in activism for personal reasons, getting recognition is an added boost of motivation that reminds all of us why we should keep going.

The friends I have made through my activism are some of the best people I have ever met. It is endlessly inspiring to spend time with people who share my worldviews and ambitions for the future. If it is true that you become the people you surround yourself with, then I am lucky to be able to surround myself with people who share my passion for justice, my tireless work ethic, and my resilient optimism for the future even when the world seems to be crashing down around us. My advocacy work has had a tremendous effect on my personal development as well.

Aside from the professional skills I have developed, such as practice with various programs and becoming a more effective communicator, I have watched myself become a more confident person, which has changed my life in every single way for the better. I have discovered an inner courage and strength that I did not realize I possessed, and I try to use my newfound fearlessness whenever possible to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

If you want to get more involved with activism but do not know where to start, I assure you that there is plenty that you can do to help whatever causes you are most passionate about. Look into local organizations already working toward progress and find out how you can help them, whether that be through volunteering or advocacy. Check out national organizations related to your favorite causes and sign up for their newsletters to stay in the loop about actions that you can take to promote positive change.

I believe in everyone's ability to make a difference in the world and I believe participating in activism is an essential way to make the greatest impact possible in your community. 

In honor of the 45th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade SCOTUS ruling, Her Campus contributors shared their reflections about abortion access, challenging stigma and reproductive choice. You can read more about what college women really think about abortion and reproductive health via Our Bodies, Our Rules.

About The Author

Helmi is a senior at The University of Alabama from Menlo Park, California studying psychology and French. She has been to 78 countries on seven continents! Her favorites are Finland (since that's where her family lives), Bali and Antarctica. When she's not in class or traveling she loves reading, singing and songwriting, and hanging out with friends.