ASFLC Vice President and U.S. Vice President talk Dobbs decision
Raina Schmidt, vice president of the Associated Students of Fort Lewis College, met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris last month at a student leader event in Washington, D.C. Harris gathered the leaders to discuss the Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and its impact on campuses across the country. The Dobbs decision effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling gave states power to enact laws limiting the medical procedure.
While abortion access following Dobbs remains legal in Colorado, Schmidt spoke about how out-of-state FLC students may have limited access to reproductive healthcare because of new laws in their home states limiting abortions. Additionally, access to abortion is now even more complex for Indigenous students, as the medical procedure was already very limited on reservations before Dobbs.
"Young people’s voices are so important because a lot of decisions are made without considering the impact on campuses."
“Young people’s voices are so important because a lot of decisions are made without considering the impact on campuses and, in this case, the young people who may seek [abortion] services,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, a senior majoring in Psychology, shared the unique perspective of FLC students with Harris, White House staff, and 75 other student leaders. Schmidt said many of the student leaders were from prestigious Ivy League and medical schools or were graduate students. The experience was a whirlwind for Schmidt, but she felt empowered doing what she loves—advocating for the students of FLC.
“Students need more information and transparency on how they can access abortions,” said Schmidt, a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. “And we need [abortion providers] who are culturally competent and can have conversations about these services with respect to cultural beliefs.”
Sharing these thoughts with Harris and her staff affirmed to Schmidt the importance of her role as ASFLC vice president. And on Election Day, about a month after she visited the White House, she reflected on the vital role of voters.
“I’ve learned in my role that we can be passionate about anything, and with good intent, we can change the world,” she said. “The people we elect make the decisions like the Dobbs decision. Even if you don’t have a uterus, this issue affects you because it affects your mom or your best friend. This is everyone’s issue, and everyone should get out and vote.”
Harris’s speech from the student leader event iterated a sentiment similar to VP Schmidt’s: “There’s a movement that was started by folks generations before us that led to Roe v. Wade about half a century ago,” Harris said. “It is now incumbent on us to pick up that movement.”