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Drexel MCH Student Organization and Peer Health Educators Host Event Centering US State of Reproductive Rights During 2022 National Public Health Week

May 27, 2022

To celebrate National Public Health Week in April, Drexel's Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO) and Peer Health Educators (PHE) collaborated to host a hybrid documentary screening of Trapped, a thought-provoking film showing targeted regulations of reproductive health clinics providing abortions in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.

"The event was [very] timely considering Oklahoma's new law. [The information] reminded me of how important reproductive rights are. It brought renewed awareness of sexual and reproductive health rights that I felt may have been given the back burner compared to what is all being talked about in the media today," said Arianna Hall, first-year MPH student and MCH Trainee.

Produced by award-winning filmmaker, Dawn Porter, the documentary features the landmark ruling, Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt (2018), while chronicling legislative and social hostilities endured by reproductive health providers dedicated to protecting the reproductive autonomy of women in the South. Following the film, undergraduate and graduate students had the opportunity to learn more about the current state of reproductive rights and access to abortion in the United States, during a panel discussion led by Professor David S. Cohen, a highly respected educator in this field from the Drexel Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

"Reproductive rights and access are a fundamental foundation of maternal and child health. Professor Cohen's insight on the current and future landscape of reproductive medical care—and the practical effects of their restriction—was timely and nuanced," said Zoe Sivak, JD/MPH student and MCH Trainee.

With Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization poised to overturn Roe v. Wade this year, the regulatory power over abortion will revert exclusively to the states. It is estimated that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 39% of women under 45 would experience increases in travel distances to access an abortion (Myers et al., 2019). During the discussion, students considered how this and other factors restricting access to abortion could dramatically reduce abortion rates and an increase the numbers of unwanted births and self-managed abortions in some states while potentially overwhelming providers in neighboring states with less restrictions.

Further, they recognized the burdens of increasing barriers to abortion are largely borne by low-income individuals, people of color, and young people (Guttmacher Institute, 2019).

MCHSO and PHE were proud to use their platform to promote meaningful dialogue, facilitated by Professor Cohen's expertise, exploring how the downstream effects of a patchwork of restrictive laws will affect maternal and child health and hobble an already fragile social net for society's most vulnerable birthing people.