STEM Trifecta hosted a panel for over one hundred attendees Tuesday discussing the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade on the STEM community. Stem Trifecta is a collaborative of the Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program (WISE RP), the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program, and the College of Engineering’s Office of Culture, Community and Equity (OCCE).
The event comes after conversations surrounding reproductive rights ignited around the nation following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The panel, titled “The Body, Politics, and STEM: Examining the Post-Roe Impacts on You,” included speakers who shared their individual experiences with reproductive freedom.
Abdul El-Sayed, visiting Public Policy faculty member, was one of the panelists. El-Sayed spoke about how some policymakers make contradictory decisions about reproductive rights.
“The very same people who tend to push this draconian approach to curtail someone’s reproductive rights are also trying to make it harder to have a child in America, whether that’s childcare, universal childcare,” El-Sayed said. “Whether that’s healthcare for children itself, whether that’s funding or foster system, and all of those consequences … fall on children.”
El-Sayed later discussed how the lack of access to abortion not only takes away individual choice but also violates the right to hold beliefs.
“When you start to push a particular definition on folks, right, you start to take away their right to choose, yes, but also their right to have their own beliefs,” El-Sayed said.
Panelist Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Michigan’s Planned Parenthood, spoke about how she believes a lack of reproductive rights violates constitutional rights. She also raised her concerns about other rights not explicitly protected by the constitution.
“The thing that’s really disturbing about the reversal of Roe v. Wade is the way in which opinion was raised explicitly (stating) that these rights are not explicitly provided for in the constitution,” Stallworth said. “So the question now becomes, what other things are not explicitly provided? Those things hinted to LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.”
Panelist Lisa Kane Low, Nursing professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, commented on the everyday struggles pregnant individuals may face and how they are often left out of political debates.
“While we may talk about (pregnancies) in theory, the reality is very direct, very powerful, and very immediate, and that’s the piece that I think we lose in the political debates,” Low said. “We lose the realities of what it means and the different ways that (those pregnant) live, work, play and exist in (their) space can all be impacted by this lack of choice.”
LSA senior Kendall Conway told The Michigan Daily that she attended the event because she wanted to hear about the opinions of professionals in the field and opportunities to further her own advocacy efforts. She said she intends to have a more active role in advocacy, beginning with small actions rather than seemingly bigger ones.
“This panel did inspire me to promote advocacy efforts among small groups because I think (of) widespread change, when in reality, you have to start somewhere small for it to spread big,” Conway said. “I’m going to be cognizant of spreading these ideas within my friend group, within my family.”
Daily News Contributor Shao Hsuan Wu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.