The SMU Women’s and Gender Studies Program will sponsor a public forum Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 on the effects of proposed Texas anti-abortion legislation that has been criticized by women’s rights advocates as crippling state-funded health care options for all women.
Scheduled for 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall, the forum comes 40 years to the week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled abortion legal in the landmark Texas case Roe v. Wade.
The event will feature a discussion with Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (pictured right, D-Fort Worth), Dallas physician (OB-GYN) Deborah Fuller and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas President and CEO Ken Lambrecht. It will be moderated by Dave Mann, editor of The Texas Observer, which has been highlighting the issue in a series of articles and events.
“This forum will address the forgotten needs of under- and uninsured women, the key role of funding in the women’s health debate, and the uncertain future of choice in Texas,” says Beth Newman, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in SMU’s Dedman College. The program is sponsoring the event with The Texas Observer.
“Recent actions by the Texas Legislature are putting the health of women and their families at risk,” Newman says. “The defunding of Planned Parenthood is not only an assault on women’s reproductive freedom, but also on the total health of many of our citizens, especially low-income women.”
Women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke — the Georgetown University law student Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked earlier this year for supporting contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act — will be at SMU Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 to discuss “Economics and Equality: How Obstacles to Women’s Health Care Access Affect Us All.”
On the heels of her speech at the Democratic National Convention Sept. 5, and her March testimony before a Democratic steering committee, “Sandra Fluke is emerging as one of our most outspoken advocates for reproductive rights and women’s health issues,” says Beth Newman, director of SMU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program and associate professor of English.
“Our goal is not to stage a debate between adversaries who hurl worn-out sound bites at one another. We want to offer students and the community an informed discussion about the relationship between reproductive rights and women’s health and how the conversation plays out in the media.”
Joining Fluke for the panel discussion will be:
Charles E. Curran, SMU’s Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, “who can provide insight, as a moral theologian and loyal dissenter within the Catholic Church, into some of the issues Fluke raised in her testimony last March,” Newman says.
SMU Associate Provost and Dedman School of Law Professor Linda Eads, who can add legal expertise to the discussion.
Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas, “who can speak about how the Texas legislature’s recent defunding of all Planned Parenthood clinics is affecting women’s health,” Newman says.
Event moderator Karen Thomas, professor of practice in Meadows School of the Arts. The award-winning journalist has 25 years’ experience covering the news as well as health and family issues.
Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, who served as the United States’ 15th surgeon general during the Clinton Administration, will discuss the state of women’s healthcare in America during SMU’s 2009 Louise B. Raggio Endowed Lecture in Women’s Studies. The event takes place at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.
Dr. Elders became the first African American and the second woman to hold the post of surgeon general when she was sworn in on Sept. 8, 1993. As surgeon general, she initiated programs to combat youth smoking and teen pregnancy and to increase childhood immunizations. She remains an influential advocate for prenatal care, healthcare reform, women’s health and treatments for HIV/AIDS.