Just four days before the 32nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the Reproductive Rights Action League of Yale College held a vigil Tuesday night at the Yale Women’s Center commemorating women whom, they said, lost their lives before the case established abortion rights.
The vigil, which attracted about 30 students, was a commemoration and celebration of the decision that has allowed women to legally obtain abortion across the United States since 1973. After an extended moment of silence, Tangled up in Blue performed two songs and the floor was then opened up for the sharing of personal anecdotes and reflections on the day.
“I feel like it is often neglected that people who are pro-choice are also spiritual and religious and care about the lives of women,” keynote speaker and RALY member Mary Elizabeth Rehm ’06 said.
Choose Life at Yale President Deborah Bedolla ’07 said in an interview she sympathized with RALY’s decision to support women’s equality, but felt Roe v. Wade does not grant women freedom.
“I can relate to them because I understand the desire to see women treated equally in society, but I disagree fundamentally on what freedom means,” Bedolla said. “I think that reproductive freedom means creating a society in which women know the truth about abortion and that it is an act of violence which not only murders the baby but deeply wounds the mother.”
In her speech, Rehm said she recognized the power in understanding the viewpoint of those that are anti-abortion as a way to give “strength” to the abortion rights cause.
While the event took on a spiritual tone, there was also a sentiment of action Tuesday night, Tom Cannell ’06 said.
“I think it’s a positive thing for people to support choice in an active way,” Cannell said. “It’s important not to just support choice on one’s own.”
Vigil organizers said they designed the event to recognize and remember the trials of some women and mothers who did not live in a society under Roe v. Wade.
“We are here for women who died during unsafe abortions, who were too embarrassed and had to perform them themselves,” Rehm said.
But Bedolla said there are many safe alternatives to abortion that she and CLAY advocate.
“I think the alternative is providing better options for women with unwanted pregnancy … that child can be given up for adoption,” Bedolla said. “There is no need to inflict this permanent harm on the mother and child because of a temporary problem.”
The vigil was the first event of many that will take place this week in commemoration of the anniversary of the famous court decision. RALY and Calhoun College will be hosting a master’s tea this afternoon in which guest speaker Susan Yolen, vice president for public affairs and communication at Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, will speak about the state of Roe v. Wade under the Bush administration.