FAYETTEVILLE, Ark (KNWA/KFTA) — Students held rallies, resource fairs and walkouts at 44 universities, colleges and high schools in 25 states, including Arkansas on Thursday. The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville was one of those schools.
The movement was part of the Nationwide Day of Student Action for Reproductive Justice. At the University of Arkansas, the Graduate Student Action Network hosted a resource fair, where around 10 organizations came together to educate people passing by on reproductive health access.
“We’ve got student organizations that focus on advocacy in a variety of areas, whether that be sexual education, sustainability, environmental justice, reproductive justice,” said Graduate Student Action Network co-chair, Katherine Dupree.
Events like the one held in Fayetteville on Thursday have been becoming more frequent since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June. Because of the decision, a trigger law went into effect in Arkansas. The state now bans abortion unless it will save the life of the mother.
“When Roe v. Wade was overturned, it shook me to my core that we can all stand here and stand aside while essential rights that you physically cannot take away from a person are legislated away,” said Dupree.
Dupree said abortion access has been a big topic in reproductive health, sparking petitions that call on state and federal legislators to act.
“We’ve got a petition for our state and our federal legislatures through the national organization. These include: the demand for federal and or state protections for accessible, affordable abortion; free contraception, mandatory sex education, and protection, gender-affirming care, and the right to gender expression,” said Dupree.
There are Americans that are very strongly opposed to abortion and don’t believe it is a healthcare right.
Abigail DeJarnatt is a University of Arkansas student who also started a Christian non-profit called “Counteract USA.”
“Our goal is to equip young men and women to apply their Christian beliefs, their biblical beliefs to the cultural and political conversations,” said DeJarnatt.
DeJarnatt said many people she meets believe that most women under the age of 35 are pro-choice. She said this isn’t true.
“I work with over 150 young men and women in Northwest Arkansas alone that are unapologetically pro-life because we believe that all human beings should be protected under the First Amendment,” said DeJarnatt.
DeJarnett believes abortion should never be an option. Instead, she advocates for community resources following an unwanted pregnancy.
“We hear of a woman who maybe is in a crisis pregnancy. We know exactly which groups to get her connected to that can help her with what she needs, whether it’s housing, whether it’s financial resources, whether it’s ultrasounds, whether it’s care from a doctor. There are people in groups that are available and ready to step into those gaps,” said DeJarnatt.
While DeJarnatt is grateful Roe v. Wade was overturned, she said there’s still more to be done and looks ahead to the November election.
“It’s easy to kind of sit back like, oh, we took a victory with the Dobbs decision, but this is the time now more than ever, to show up at the polls,” said DeJarnatt.
Meanwhile, Dupree hopes on the Nationwide Day of Student Action for Reproductive Justice that young people were able to educate themselves on reproductive access and also consider voting on election day to make their voices heard.
“Now is the time to act, and if you’re not feeling the urgency, then I think you need to look around and listen to some of the people around you,” said Dupree.
Election day is Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11.