By Kaitlyn McCormick
Following months of anticipation, the wait to determine the fate of abortion access across the country culminated on June 24, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v. Jackson case that the United States Constitution does not grant a right to abortion, effectively overturning the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade.
President Gregory Dell’Omo released a statement via email on June 27 regarding the decision, reiterating the services available to students and staff while also maintaining that “Rider has always stood, strongly and proudly, for the advancement of women’s rights.”
According to an emailed statement attributed to Rider University’s Health Center Director Elizabeth Luciano, the center’s goal “has always been and will continue to be providing safe, high quality reproductive health care.”
Students are able to utilize services such as birth control consultations and prescriptions, women’s health exams including gynecological exams, pregnancy testing and individual medical counsel to assist students in making informed decisions regarding reproductive health, with referrals available if warranted.
While abortion access remains legal and available in New Jersey, codified into law by Govenor Phil Murphy in Jan. 2021 through the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, the upcoming election season may bring challenges specifically for students or staff commuting from out of state. For example, the upcoming Pennsylvania gubernatorial election has the potential to alter abortion access in the state depending on which candidate wins.
Laurel Harris, English professor and Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s faculty advisor, expressed the “horror” she initially felt after the decision, as well as an admitted sense of naivety after not imagining that a precedent such as Roe v. Wade would be overturned.
While a New Jersey native herself, Harris mentioned concern for the legalities surrounding abortion rights and helping friends or family in adjacent states: “If abortion is illegal in the neighboring state, am I then legally implicated in aiding and abetting an abortion right?”
Generation Action is planning a march on campus for reproductive rights toward the end of September with the hopes of ushering interested students to attend the Trenton Fall Legislative Summit on Sept. 29.
Rider’s gender and sexuality studies department is also planning a reproductive rights panel for Oct. 19 that will consist of four panelists from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, the New Jersey Latino Action Network, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice and Rutgers University.
In contrast, Rider’s chapter of Students for Life America plans to continue tabling.