Town Hall meeting to discuss changing Supreme Court

By Kristen Rains

Students and professors will congregate Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Illini Union room 314A for a town hall meeting titled, “Sexuality, Reproductive Rights and the Changing Supreme Court.”

This discussion, sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, was a brainstorm of University Professors Elizabeth Pleck and Leslie Reagan, who are both speaking at the discussion.

Jacquelyn Kahn, associate director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, said the event was organized to inform the student body of the possible repercussions of the newly nominated Samuel Alito as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

“This could set women back decades,” Kahn said.

She said she was concerned about the possible majority of the Republican Party in both the Senate and the Supreme Court suggesting that women’s reproductive rights as well as Civil Rights, including those of the LGBT community, could be severely at risk.

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A variety of topics as they pertain to the changing Supreme Court will be discussed during this evening’s meeting. Topics include: 5 to 4: What that Means When Abortion was a Crime, the Sterilization of Puerto Rican Women, Catholicism and Latinas, and the Uses of Sodomy.

Pleck, professor of history and human and community development, will be discussing the possible outcome of the 5 to 4 ratio which refers to the Republican Democratic ratio, as well as Alito’s political beliefs. Pleck said she feels that the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973 is severely at risk of being overturned.

“Many people aren’t aware this is happening,” Pleck said. “This is a vote to erode the Roe decision.”

She said Alito does not view married women as equals under the law, and if voted into Court two things could happen, “there will be a ban on many types of abortion, and it will be much difficult for challengers to get into court,” Pleck said.

Each panelist will present their topics and then open the discussion to the audience to answer any questions they may have. Panelists include professors from various programs from History, to Latina/Latino Studies, to Gender and Women’s Studies.

Reagan, author of “When Abortion was a Crime” and associate professor of history, medicine, gender and women studies and law will be discussing the history of illegal abortions and its impact on women. She feels that if Alito is nominated into office, history is at risk of repeating itself.

“Imagine a lot of injuries and a lot of death,” Reagan said. “Women will have abortions despite what the law tells them.”

Students Melissa Murphy, senior in LAS, and Maureen Gombas, senior in LAS will also be speaking at the discussion. Their topic will focus on the current debate over Emergency Contraception, commonly known as EC. Murphy, executive advisor of the Feminist Majority and sexual health peer, fears the nomination of Alito into the Supreme Court could impact the Food and Drug Administration’s pending decision on the issue of making emergency contraception available over the counter.

“It’s important to get info about EC out because there is a lot of misinformation,” Murphy said. “EC is not an abortion pill but a back-up method of contraception.”

The GWS program encourages students to attend.

“Students need to be aware of this dramatic moment in U.S. history that will change their lives and the course of Civil Rights – it could be for the worst,” Kahn said.