Opinion | Social justice work must continue

Although social justice issues seem to be losing momentum in Iowa City, a reproductive justice rally on Sunday focused on inclusivity and called for us to do our part.


Gabby Drees

A protester throws up their middle fingers at a pro-abortion rights march through downtown Iowa City on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Yasmina Sahir, Opinions Columnist

I attended a protest on the University of Iowa Pentacrest to discuss the ongoing fight for reproductive rights in Iowa on Sunday. At this community meeting, organizers and activists alike shared a similar sentiment: We are tired.

Students, professionals, parents and guardians, religious leaders, politicians, and organizers in town understand the everyday stress and strain life brings. Even so, spending time on community initiatives isn’t a choice we all make lightly, especially with other tasks to accomplish each day.

We push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion because of the terrifying reality every U.S. citizen faces: If we don’t stand up now, there might not be a chance to fight in the future.

The overturn of Roe v. Wade was about more than abortion access. The 1973 decision protected rights to medical privacy, which is of large concern to people of color, queer folks, and trans and nonbinary community members.

Support for pro-choice ideology and abortion access, conversations on disability advocacy, inclusion of gender-noncomforming people, and the importance of voting were all highlighted at the event.

“As history shows us, we have to do this work as a movement,” said Amanda Remington, director of Corridor Community Action Network. “Reproductive justice is not an isolated issue. If we allow fascists to expand their denial of reproductive freedom to larger masses, it will not stop there.”

Remington highlighted how we all must stop “focusing on our pet issues.” This fight isn’t just for abortion access and health care for anyone with a uterus. It’s abolition work, it’s political work, it’s social work, and it’s sexuality and gender representation.

Most strikingly, religious leaders were invited to speak at the rally about faith’s role in the fight for bodily autonomy and other human rights issues.

“My faith calls me to vote for people who will protect reproductive choice and bodily autonomy,” said Rev. Meg Wagner, a missioner for congregational development, transitions, and reconciliation for the Iowa Episcopal Church.

“As a follower of Jesus, my faith calls for me to vote for people who will look out for the poor, stand up for the vulnerable, advocate for those who are not seen and heard, and who will protect the dignity of every human being just like Jesus did,” Wagner said.

In a community like Iowa City so focused on reactionary justice work, we must maintain high protest turnout, push back constantly against non-allied politicians, and show up at the polls to reach any anti-system, non-compliant goals.

This issue is reflective of the summer protesting that took place in 2020. Although abolitionist movements existed before 2020 and continue today, the wide scale response in cities across the U.S. — including Iowa City — have dwindled.

We can’t allow our community to fall victim to only responding when someone is harmed by the system, whether that’s police brutality or lack of health care access and other social services. We must act now before harm is done. There can be no freedoms for one group without freedom for all. Justice does not exist in a vacuum.

The next election is Nov. 8. Show up to vote, to protest, to share your experience, and to connect with others. The time is now. Take advantage before more lives are put on the line.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.