Maria Morkas / Thresher
Maria Morkas / Thresher
10/5/22 12:04 AM
On September 29, the Baker Institute Student Forum hosted an expert panel on abortion health care. The session discussed topics such as abortion from a healthcare provider’s perspective, abortion advocacy and creating a culture and community of trust at the university level.
Speakers included Dr. Rola Al-Sarraj, director of the Center for Health and Biological Sciences at the Baker Institute, Dr. Robert Carpenter and Dr. Claire Horner of Baylor College of Medicine, public health policy advisor Natalie Minas and Planned Parenthood representative Nikki Banner.
Tomas Kovacs and Oliver Haut-Sierra, presidents of BISF, said they were happy to see such a good turnout for an event that touched on an important political topic.
“Although BISF, as a nonpartisan organization, does not endorse views on policy issues and asks impartial questions, the emotional and sometimes partisan rhetoric among committee members demonstrated the importance of dialogue on the subject,” wrote Hutt-Sierra, a final year student at the College of Education. Martel, in an email to Thresher. “We are always excited to host events that facilitate dialogue on relevant policy topics and look forward to hosting more events this semester.”
Sarraj said she believes healthcare policy should be driven by scientific data and not other factors such as ideology.
“We have scientific data that is able to guide us in setting up, creating or developing legislation that is in the best interest of women’s health in our society…Our role as scientists and health care providers is to provide that data and translate it,” Al-Sarraj said.
Alison Stocks, president of Rice’s Planned Parenthood branch, said she believes abortion is a necessary health care, whether it’s chosen or medically required, and that it should really be between the patient and their doctor.
“I think this is a protected right, enshrined in it [Roe v. Wade]and reversing that was contrary already approvedsaid Stocks, a freshman at Lovett College.
Al-Sarraj said that from a public health perspective, health is seen as more than just a disease, but also includes the social determinants of health. According to the World Health Organization, public health includes all aspects of wellness, such as mental health, because these things affect outcomes such as reproductive health.
We don’t just talk about women [whose] “Life is in danger because they have a certain underlying medical condition,” Sarraj said. “But we know, for example, that when women have no choice, and are denied an abortion, there is data to support that…there are many aspects of their lives that are negatively affected, [like] its social and economic effects.
Stokes said she believes it is important to have conversations with educational experts, policy advisors, doctors, lawyers and friends about abortion because it is useful for learning.
“Any conversation that brings up abortion normalizes it and more,” Stokes said. And it needs to be normalized because it is a non-politicized medical procedure in other countries for a reason; It’s not something to discuss. But it’s also a thing even when it’s legal and under Raw vs. WadeAnd the [when] People could have an abortion when they needed or wanted an abortion, and it was still a stigma.”
Al-Sarraj said it is important for every woman or feminist to understand the seriousness of the reproductive health situation in the United States and to be well aware of the legislation and the consequences of both.
“It is a violation of a woman’s ability to determine what is best for her health. This is, in my opinion, a fundamental insult to a woman’s right to decide her own future,” Sarraj said. “But also from a medical point of view, it interferes with the very important patient-provider relationship; this is part of the informed consent process that is so important in getting women to be able to make the best decisions for themselves from a health point of view.”
In an email to Thresher, Juliana Phan, BISF’s director of outreach, said they hosted the event because they felt this discussion was necessary with people like college students, who are uniquely affected by abortion policies.
Fan, a senior student at Lovett College, wrote, “I understand that events like this can only do so much—conversation and discussion is just that, and knowing the state of politics is not the same as changing it.” “If it is within their ability to do so, I hope at least some of the people who attended the event will be excited to take this information and use it to advocate for what they believe in.”
Al-Sarraj said that from a political point of view, this is a voting issue and change must be brought about at the state level.
“It will be very interesting to see the outcome of this upcoming legislative session because there is a lot of legislation… [about] “Reproductive health rights,” Sarraj said. “Personally I feel it will depend on how important this issue is for women in the country for women of lower socioeconomic status. If it is an issue that is important enough to get them to the polls to vote, we may get somewhere, but I am not sure there is enough awareness So far on the seriousness of the situation.”