This fall quarter, largely in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Women’s Center is hosting a series of events relating to abortion rights and reproductive justice. On Oct. 11, I had the privilege of interviewing Viviana Valle, the Women’s Center programs and operations coordinator and a graduate student at UCSB, to introduce these events and help better understand the motivations behind the Women’s Center’s new event series.
The Women’s Center is an organization dedicated to providing education on women’s issues, feminism, healthy masculinities, and gender and social equity. The center’s mission is to serve as a conduit for women to participate in the conversation on abortion rights and reproductive justice.
When I asked Valle about what the reproductive justice series is about, they said, “The first and most consistent theme of this series is about political education.”
Many have criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as it does not offer support for reproductive health — not “stopping” abortion but, rather, getting rid of safe abortion procedures. The Women’s Center’s event series hopes to educate on the history of reproductive justice, how safe procedures are still possible, and how you too can be of assistance to those in need.
The first program in the series is a feminist book club. According to Valle, “The book club started last week, October 6, 2022. The book we are currently reading is Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now To Protect Reproductive Freedom by Kathryn Kolbert.”
Kolbert’s work emphasizes how reproductive freedom, now more than ever, is dire. Kolbert writes that restrictive state legislation and anti-abortion judges made getting an abortion even harder than before. Kolbert writes with Julie F. Kay from a legal perspective and the two come to the conclusion that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was long in the works and in no way a surprise. The two propose healthcare advances such as the building of personal clinics, to redirect the population when the law fails to protect them and they need to take matters into their own hands.
According to Valle, the book the club is currently reading is meant to help educate its readers about the language used in courtrooms as it pertains to reproductive justice.
The second program in the series that Valle informed me about is their upcoming tabling event, “Roots of Response”: The Many Branches of Reproductive Justice Activism.
Valle stated, “The idea for this event is to provide resources and tactics for activist works. This will really go into how we can change reproductive justice after those who attend the tabling event receive political education. We want to use our knowledge of leading protests to affect change in our community, even if that is only campus-wide, city-wide, etc.”
This event is said to have several women’s organizations within Santa Barbara coming out to provide resources for those who are interested in learning more about how to be actively engaged politically regarding reproductive rights.
In their last program of the series, the Women’s Center will premiere the documentary The Janes on HBO. According to Valle, “The purpose of putting on The Janes is to bring in more people to get an idea of what can be done when we are restricted to laws created by the government.”
Through this documentary, we learn about the boundaries that people are willing to push both legally, through protests, and performance-wise, in order to help each other just as human beings obtain reproductive rights.
Valle said, “I’m hoping that more people will be able to primarily educate themselves regarding abortion rights and in what ways reproductive justice can be obtained, especially because we live in a state where we have more privilege over abortion rights. So, it may feel like it’s not our concern at the end of the day. However, if any woman is oppressed, we are all oppressed. We should be finding ways to get involved and push legislators to not have so much say over our bodies.”
Just this summer, I was in Washington D.C protesting the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Hundreds of us came together to voice the injustice of the ruling and I find this series to be highly informative.
Valle stressed the need to become politically aware regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade because as more policies are put in place to restrict bodies and restrain abortion rights, more people will need to resort to unsafe procedures.
Valle concluded by saying, “I encourage folks — anyone and everyone including [those] who cannot reproduce — to still be involved.”
For specific details about when and where these events are or will be held, visit https://womenscenter.sa.ucsb.edu/events.