1. Brainstorm and list: What words or phrases come to mind when you hear the phrase “reproductive health”? What do you think this phrase means?
2. Compare the class definition with the following, used by the World Health Organization: Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
How does this definition differ from the one the class came up with? How is it similar?
3. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, which means that U.S. states can now decide individually whether to protect, restrict, or ban the legal right to an abortion. How is this decision related to reproductive health? What elements of the World Health Organization’s definition can be applied to abortion?
4. Who do you think is affected by restrictions on the legal right to access an abortion?
- How do you think women, men, children, cis people, trans people, nonbinary people, etc. are affected?
- How might other aspects of people's identities and circumstances, beyond gender and reproductive capabilities, influence how they are affected? (Think about race, socioeconomic status, religion, country or state of residence, etc.)
- What are some of the ways in which people are affected by this issue?
Introducing the Lesson:
The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24, 2022, ruling that the right to an abortion is not protected under the Constitution. In so doing, the Court ended nearly fifty years of federal abortion protections and restored the ability of states to ban abortion.
In this lesson, students will read about one woman’s fight to access a safe abortion in Texas, prior to this ruling. From disinformation to financial costs, students will learn about the challenges people face when trying to access safe abortions and reproductive healthcare. Through this exploration, they will gain context for the breaking news headlines, make local connections, and build on their knowledge of reproductive freedom. Extension activities guide students in fact-checking social media posts about reproductive health and freedom, producing interviews with local advocates, researching abortion policies and access in their own communities, and connecting to global struggles for reproductive freedom.
Exploring the News Resources:
Students read “Retracing the Steps of My Abortion” by Dina Gachman and Brittney McNamara for Teen Vogue. This story chronicles the steps one young woman in San Antonio, Texas had to take to access an abortion in 2018, and reflects on the future for people trying to access abortion under new legal restrictions. After reading, students can respond to the reflection and discussion questions below.
Reflection and Discussion:
These questions can be explored as part of whole-class discussions or small-group discussions.
- What new information did you learn from the story that you did not know before? Did anything surprise you?
- Has this story challenged, expanded, or reinforced any of your own ideas relating to abortions and reproductive freedom? If so, how?
- What are the effects of the number of abortion clinics declining and/or living in a “abortion desert” on people who can become pregnant, especially on people of color, low-income, LGBTQIA+, and other groups of people who have historically been marginalized?
- Why are abortion funds critical in helping people access safe abortions, especially for people of color, low-income, LGBTQIA+, and other groups of people who have historically been marginalized?
- Why do you think it's important to highlight stories about access to safe abortions and reproductive freedom?
- Why do you think it's important to highlight stories about advocates like Makayla Montoya Frazier who are fighting for access to safe abortions in their communities? How do you think Makayla’s story can inform people’s thinking and/or action?
- Do you know of any local organizations or leaders in your community that are working towards advancing reproductive freedom?
1. Interview a Reproductive Justice Leader/Organization
Who is fighting for safe access to reproductive health care in your community? Do some research and identify a leader or organization in your city, state, or country. Reach out and interview this individual or a representative of the organization. Click here to take a look at a lesson with tips on how to prepare for, conduct, and edit an interview.
- What is your interviewee’s mission?
- Why is their mission important to them on a personal level?
- What issues, solutions, actions, or policies do they champion or support?
- How might we support their work in our everyday lives?
2. Dismantle Misinformation
Challenge yourself to fact-check every social media post you see about reproductive health for 24 hours.
Step 1. Create a spreadsheet or another document that contains the post link, the post author, and a list of factual claims made in the post. (Note: You do not need to include opinions in your list of claims, as these are subjective. An opinion may be formed on the basis of true information or misinformation, but it is not true information or misinformation itself.)
Step 2. Research the post authors. (Is the author a journalist? Doctor? Activist? Member of the public? Are they affiliated with any organizations? What comes up when you search for their name online?) Note who the author is, and any important affiliations in your document.
Step 3. Research each factual claim made in the posts. These guiding questions may help:
- Is the information attributed to any source? If so, are they an appropriate, knowledgeable source?
- Do news stories, organizations’ websites, or peer-reviewed articles support the factual claims you identified? Can you find any sources that contradict the claims?
Record in your document: Is the claim true, false, or unverified (i.e. you could not find enough information to make a judgment)?
Step 4. Write a one-two page reflection on what you learned from analyzing social media posts on reproductive health for a day.
3. Know Your Rights Flyer
This story was published just hours before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that previously protected the right to a legal abortion. Use this activity to examine and spread awareness about how abortion rights have been impacted in your state since this ruling. Below are some organizations that you could look to for information. In your Know Your Rights Flyer include the following:
- What happened? (The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that previously protected the right to a legal abortion. The legal status of abortion is entirely up to the individual states.)
- What happens for the right to abortion now in your state?
- Is it currently legal or illegal to get an abortion in your state?
- Is there any legislation related to abortion or reproductive freedom pending in your state?
- Where can people go for more information, updates, and resources on how abortion rights have been impacted in your state since this ruling?
Here are some organizations that you could look to for more information:
- National Council for State Legislatures
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- The Guttmacher Institute
- Planned Parenthood
Be sure to use multiple sources to check your facts carefully before sharing this information. If you share any predictions about what may happen in the future, take care to cite the source of the prediction, and to be clear that this is a projection rather than a current reality.
If possible, hang your Know Your Rights flyer around your community or post it on social media.
4. Making Global Connections
The struggle for access to abortions and reproductive freedom is global. Read one of the stories below about women around the world fighting for reproductive freedom. Then write a short paper answering (1 page) the following question. What can the women featured in the story teach us about the fight for reproductive freedom?