On March 24, Christine Sadovy, the advocacy director of Planned Parenthood for the central and greater Northern New Jersey area, came to Ramapo College to discuss the politics of women’s reproductive rights. When she began her presentation, she first gave a general overview of the organization she represented.
“My organization’s mission is to provide women with reproductive healthcare regardless of extraneous factors,” Sadovy said.
She went on to highlight her own story, telling the audience of an event during her time in a Catholic high school, which caused her to devote her life to the advocacy of reproductive healthcare.
“When I was a sophomore, my morality class teacher gave us an assignment where we had to take a position on a moral issue,” Sadovy said. “So I decided to write my issue about birth control.”
However, when this paper was graded and returned to her, she was disappointed to see she failed the assignment.
“Given that I was a straight-A student in my high school years, I knew I didn’t get an F due to the paper being poorly written or badly researched, but due to me advocating birth control, which is condemned by traditionalist Catholic teaching,” she said.
According to Sadovy, this injustice and her subsequent movement to strike these grades is what motivated her to pursue advocacy for women's reproductive rights and healthcare as the incident demonstrated to her the opposition’s desire to curtail and suppress these issues.
Sadovy then asked audience members to discuss their motivation to endorse and advocate reproductive rights and healthcare.
“The freedom from coercion and force in these reproductive healthcare decisions is what appeals to me the most, especially since opponents constantly attempt to put up barriers to access these services by restricting abortion and contraceptives,” student Kevin Risman said.
Sadovy agreed, before giving a status report on the state of reproductive healthcare in America:
“In the past two years, abortion is more restricted than it was 15 years ago – more restrictions than 1995.”
She continued by providing an example of a new waiting list restriction in North Dakota, explaining that there is a waiting period of 72 hours – not including holidays and weekends – which when compounded with the fact that there is only one abortion provider in a state that stretches for thousands of miles, makes getting an abortion ridiculously difficult.
Sadovy then turned her attention to New Jersey, noting that while New Jersey is a fairly progressive state when it comes to reproductive rights, "Governor Christie and his supporters in the legislature have constantly vetoed attempts to spend a percent of the budget on reproductive healthcare, damaging the ability of lower income families and women to access these important services," said Sadovy.
The event concluded with an activity where the audience was asked to write letters to the appropriate representative in the state legislature about the need to devote some of the state budget to reproductive healthcare.