President of NARAL Pro-Choice America visits Georgetown

Last Wednesday, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Ilyse Hogue began an eloquent recount of the political state of abortion rights within 30 seconds of walking into White Gravenor. Her seamless transition into speech for the event, which was organized by H*yas for Choice, befits her role as one of Elle Magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Women in D.C.”.

“When we are denied abortion access, women get trapped in cycles of poverty, we can’t finish our education, we can’t go on and get jobs and contribute to society in the ways that we know make society better, but we also can’t make conditions so that we have a wanted family that’s taken care of,” Hogue said, presenting the academic groundwork for her organization’s support of abortion.

During her presentation, she discussed how America has departed from the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which outlawed states from banning abortion except for during the third trimester of pregnancy. Despite this ruling, states have been able to enact laws that implicitly block a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. Texas, for example, recently passed a law requiring hospital-level upgrades that closed thousands of abortion clinics.

“Clinics are closing like crazy all over the country, and it’s having massive effects. It’s having massive effects in Texas, where in a 2012 study which was before this latest round of closures, 7 percent of women who reported needing abortion care were feeling like they had to try to self-abort. And that’s self-reporting, so we think the numbers are probably higher,” Rogue said.

The question of abortion’s legality poses one of the most profound questions of individual rights. As neighbors to heated debates over fetus’ rights and women’s rights, Georgetown students ride the waves of arguments emanating from the Capitol. Hogue offered some advice for navigating abortion’s difficult ethical issues.

“One guiding principle of NARAL is to remember that we are the majority. We actually live in a majority pro-choice country. This gets lost a lot of the time…When you ask people regardless of how you feel, ‘do you think that politicians and governments should be making this decision or do you think that abortion should be legally accessible so that people can make their own decisions about this’, at least 70 percent of Americans say ‘Yes, I have my own feelings, but I don’t want to decide for you and I don’t want the government to decide for you.’”

Her organization works to advance women’s reproductive rights by lobbying Congress and organizing other rallies and movements around the country. NARAL leaders and members reach out to their state representatives to express discontent at anti-choice decisions.

Each year, NARAL hosts a Lobby Day and organizes mass outreach to state senators. Hogue also said that NARAL’s mantra going forward is that they plan to “go on the offensive.”

“The pendulum is going to swing in the other direction, and when it does its our responsibility to make sure it doesn’t stop like it did in 1973,” she said. “Roe was never meant to be an endpoint, it was intended to be a beginning point, and it is our job and your job to define what reproductive freedom looks like in the 21st century.”

Photo: Dominique Rogue/The Georgetown Voice

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