URGE-branded koozies, condoms, stuckers, buttons and popsockets were available for students to pick up at the ABT tent. Photo by Kat Bell
On Monday, March 19, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE) representatives visited UM’s campus as part of their Abortion Positive Tour.
URGE data manager Taylor Harrison and Alabama state organizer Andi Lawhead, along with members of UM’s URGE chapter, set up outside of Farmer Hall to educate students about abortion and the obstacles people often face when seeking the procedure in Alabama, or the U.S. in general
The group also sought to reframe how the public thinks of the issue of abortion as a whole.
“Oftentimes on college campuses you’ll see sort of negative messages about abortion and people who have abortions,” said Harrison. “We want to destigmatize abortion and folks who get abortions. It’s a perfectly safe and healthy procedure, and it’s a part of a full range of medical care that people of reproductive age need access to.”
According to the URGE members’ presentation, though abortion is legal in the U.S, those seeking them often face several roadblocks that can make accessing the procedure near impossible; one of those roadblocks being that the U.S. does not have enough abortion clinics.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on reproductive health, there were 788 abortion clinics nationwide as of 2014, and, according to URGE, there are currently three operating clinics in Alabama that can perform the procedure. These clinics are located in Montgomery, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.
Also brought up by the organization was the required 48-hour waiting period patients must undergo between their initial appointment and the actual abortion procedure, standard protocol in Alabama, as well as other states.
Harrison explained that such conditions can make finding the time to get the procedure done “incredibly hard for people who don’t live close to a clinic.”
“If you have kids or school or work, you’ll have to take off work twice, get someone to babysit your kids twice, miss class twice, all just so that you can get your procedure done,” said Harrison.
URGE members also emphasized the price of abortion as another barrier to working-class individuals seeking abortions, with procedures starting at $400 and only increasing in price the further along a patient is into their pregnancy.
URGE’s next move is their advocacy day, set to occur April 9, in Montgomery. There, URGE members from across the State will join in advocating for the removal of homophobic language in a sex education bill, as well as discussing the recently proposed abortion ban bill, HB314.