Talking about Abortion and Morality with College Students in North Carolina

This is a report from a friend with World Can’t Wait in North Carolina, about a video screening at the UNCG campus of the new film: Abortion, Morality and the Liberation of Women which features Dr. Susan Wicklund, author of  This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor and Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper. The film is available on Youtube or DVD.


There were about 23-25 people there, all but 3-4 being students. Two folks from World Can’t Wait other than myself, one progressive prof., and one woman who has been fighting eviction from public housing (in fact, she had lost her appeal that day and really wanted to come to this movie to “think about something else”). We watched both Dr. Wicklund and Sunsara’s presentations in their entirety, skipped the first question, then watched the next two q’s and stopped the video there to make more time for discussion.

The discussion was engaging from beginning to end. The student from VOX who was facilitating did a great job of probing people to respond to some of the points made in the movie, but on the whole people were inspired to really grapple with a lot of issues. The first student to respond referred to Dr. Wicklund as a “total bad-ass” that inspired her. She made another point more or less to this effect:  “I need people to call me out more for thinking the Democratic Party is going to be any different” and said the movie did a really good job of that.

There was some discussion at the prompting of the facilitator of the points Sunsara made about Michelle Obama; one student said that there’s nothing wrong with identifying yourself as a mother first and foremost, and another student, who didn’t disagree with that point, added that you don’t however see Barack Obama describing himself as “first and foremost the father of Sasha and Malia”.

Another student, a freshman, talked about having had to take “a bullshit abstinence-only sex ed class” in high school, and mentioned a student who had been kept so ignorant by her religious parents that when she had her first menstrual period, she though she was dying. she used that as an example of how “some things shouldn’t just be left up to the parents.”

An guy from World Can’t Wait who attended UNCG in the 60s talked about women he knew back then that had to drive friends to DC, which had the nearest clinic that did abortions. He talked about how people don’t know today how difficult things used to be, and was glad to see people trying to keep things from going back to the days of abortion being illegal.

I brought up the three points (which were not in the sections of the video we attached) that should serve as a foundational basis of what we stand for: a fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators, and talked about how those points are probably completely non-controversial amongst the people in the room, but which had been compromised and diluted to near meaninglessness by the sections of the movement that are subservient to the Democratic Party. There was some back and forth about this, leading to a bit of discussion over who we’re trying to win over, and what we’re saying to do so. One student suggested that more people would agree that a first trimester fetus is not viable, and therefore we could maybe get people to at least agree that abortions at this stage should stay legal. Another student challenged that idea.

There followed then for a little while some discussion of particular actions that should be taken–clinic defense (one student referred to a recent attack by antis at a clinic in nearby Winston Salem–need to find out more abt this), others talked about International Women’s Day (which unfortunately falls during their spring break–but they still wanna do something) and appreciation day for abortion providers.

Overall the vibe was very positive. People really engaged. I mentioned to Anne how great I thought the discussion was, and her reply was, “well, when you get a bunch of women and gender studies people together, we’re always like this.” If that’s true, that’s a damn good thing.

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  • saltyc

    How nice that it was a positive and informational experience. If more of this happens there’s hope for the future, I think the more people think about it the more they will appreciate what abortion providers do.

  • offred

    when you get a bunch of women and gender studies people together, we’re always like this


    From the article, it sounds like no one challenged the basic premise about the morality of abortion. Maybe this wasn’t the place for it, but if you had no one in disagreement, then I’d say this was more of a group-think pep rally than an occasion for learning.

  • saltyc

    YES! The religious folk already know the value of preaching to the choir, let’s do more of our own.

  • coloner

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