Fighting for reproductive rights is usually no laughing matter, especially when it requires examining the growing number of infringements on access to healthcare, the ways sexuality education is limited, and the dangers involved in being an abortion provider.
But this year at the NCJW/Essex special Lunch and Learn, “Ending the Stigma of Abortion,” more than 200 attendees learned how the Lady Parts Justice League, a team of comedians, writers, and producers, use humor to break down barriers in their efforts to protect reproductive rights. The group, founded by Lizz Winstead, co-creator and head writer of The Daily Show, examined the stigma attached to abortion as too often people are uncomfortable talking about the subject (even saying the word!) and the challenges of obtaining care. This has made it tough to expose myths, raise awareness and turn the tide on the attacks on access to care.
“We talk about abortion in silence and secrecy and we are trying to change that,” said Winstead. “Abortion is safe and necessary and we shouldn’t feel shamed by it.” Winstead was joined for a panel discussion by Jen Moore Conrow, MFS, who serves as the Director of PEACE at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she oversees the Fellowship in Family Planning and the residency education program, training the next generation of abortion providers; and Solange Azor, a New York City-based comedian, writer and activist for reproductive justice.
This special event commemorated the 46th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that ensures a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. Attendees participated in a “call to action,” sending letters to New Jersey legislators in support of Bill A1861: Address Confidentiality Program for Reproductive Health Services Employees and Clients. This legislation would offer both staff and patients the option of confidentiality of their address, thus granting them safety and security for themselves and their families. The following organizations were co-sponsors: ACLU-NJ, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Hadassah of Northern New Jersey, Jewish Women’s Foundation, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Institute for Reproductive Health, NCJW Bergen, NCJW West Morris, NCJW Union, Network for Responsible Public Policy, New Jersey Abortion Access Fund, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ Drug Policy Alliance, NJ Sierra Club, NOW NJ, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan NJ, Rachel Coalition, S.O.F.I.A.-Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates, Stanton Strong, The Reproductive Justice Committee of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, The Women’s Centers, Unitarian Universalist Faith Action New Jersey