Since the landmark Roe V. Wade Supreme Court case in 1972, abortion has become a widely debated topic in the U.S, separating the country into two sects – pro-life and pro-choice. This week, the IUSB Civil Rights Heritage Center decided to tackle this subject by pairing a documentary, “Our Bodies Our Doctors”, with a local panel.
Each month the center screens a national documentary on a social justice topic and holds a discussion immediately following, George Garner, the center’s interim director, said.
This month’s film provided a look into the pro-choice movement and the daily lives of the physicians who perform abortions.
After the viewing, a panel consisting of four local women took questions from the crowd and discussed their opinions on women’s reproductive rights.
Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies department, Dr. Christina Gerken, strongly believes that abortion, as well as human sexuality, needs to be addressed and confronted more in American culture and society.
Commenting on the film’s attempt to destigmatize abortion in the U.S., Gerken said, “We need to normalize abortion. We need to talk about it and provide comprehensive sex ed in our schools,” Gerken said.
Debra Stanley, executive director of Imani & Unidad Inc, a South Bend service organization, agreed with Gerken, saying that a lack of factual information leads to recurring issues.
“We must admit that sex happens,” Stanley said. “That’s why it’s important that we ask questions and learn about our bodies.”
Outside the heritage center, a group of several pro-life protesters gathered, and although no negative interactions were made, it conveyed a society that, even after 47 years, continues to remain divided on the subject of abortion and women’s reproductive rights.