• Dakotah Kennedy

Girls in Newnan just want to have fundamental rights: Teenage girls organize post-Roe reversal

Updated: 4 days ago


Credit: Lilly Kirk

On Friday June 24, 2022, Caroline Furlong, a 17-year-old high school student, sat in her room finishing up a paper for school.


She turned to social media and saw her feed was flooded with news that Roe v. Wade had been reversed. Furlong said she burst into tears, worried she’d lost access to a safe abortion, previously upheld as a Constitutional right.


“America claims to be a place where you can be whatever you want and follow your dreams,” she said. “But then, they deny basic human rights to people because they cannot separate church and state.”


Furlong, a rising senior at her high school, splits her time between parents’ homes in Newnan and Peachtree City. At a young age, Furlong’s parents divorced after one of her moms came out as queer. Furlong was raised by three moms and attributes her early interest in advocacy to her upbringing.


As a survivor of sexual assault, Furlong is scared for a future where anyone who becomes pregnant could be forced to give birth. “Women and young girls have to carry these babies to term even if it is a constant reminder of a traumatic incident they endured,” she said.

"Women and young girls have to carry these babies to term even if it is a constant reminder of a traumatic incident they endured."

“In response to Roe’s reversal, Furlong created a group chat with her friends to promote safety and community building. Furlong said that her and her friends are scared because many of her male classmates have hurt girls at her school.


"I’m worried that the boys will act out now that Roe has been overturned,” she said. “We need to work together to report suspicious behavior, partner up, and be safe.”


Furlong is not alone in finding ways to create community amongst her peers post-Roe.

Credit: Lilly Kirk

When Lilly Kirk, a college sophomore, heard about Roe’s reversal she was speechless. She believes the decision affects not only women, but everybody. “I’m worried about a lot of my gay friends and my trans friends. I’m worried about buying contraceptives. If they are able to strip this from us, what’s next?”


Kirk spent almost her entire life in Newnan before going off to college to study philosophy and law. Although Kirk’s primary passion is environmental justice, the subject of abortion rights is personal to Kirk.


As a survivor of sexual assault, Kirk couldn’t imagine being forced to give birth post-Roe. “If I had gotten pregnant, I would have had to carry that product of rape for nine months. I wouldn’t know what to do,” she explained.


“If I had gotten pregnant, I would have had to carry that product of rape for nine months. I wouldn’t know what to do."

When Roe was reversed, Kirk was in Athens visiting the University of Georgia. She attended a local protest and decided to bring the message back to her hometown in Newnan.


“I really wanted my hometown to wake up,” she said. “We’re not going to be quiet. We’re not going to sit on the sidelines anymore. This is an attack and it will not go unnoticed,” said Kirk.


Kirk organized a protest on Saturday, July 2nd in Downtown Newnan. She brought art supplies and sidewalk chalk to draw messages in front of the courthouse steps. She said that more people showed up than she expected and the whole experience made her feel alive.


Kirk looks forward to continuing to fight for abortion rights and expanding her community involvement in Georgia.

Credit: Lilly Kirk

The day Roe was reversed, 17-year-old Ella Butcher had just woken up when she checked her social media. Even though she said she saw the reversal coming, she still scoured the internet for confirmation in the wake of the decision.


“I was shocked. We were just talking about this with my grandma who already fought for abortion rights," said Butcher, who attended an abortion rights protest in Atlanta.


When speaking about abortion access, Butcher quickly identified her privilege as a young white woman. Butcher wants to be a teacher and plans on leaving Newnan. Although she believes that she could access an abortion out-of-state if she needed one, she’s worried that a teacher’s salary might prevent her from affording the costs.


Butcher, who identifies as a feminist, believes that girls who are pro-life limit the options they want their children to have in the future. “You’re not giving them options and you want to give your child as many options as you can,” she said.


Other girls in Newnan fear for a post-Roe future, especially how it will affect the younger children in their lives.


“It’s scary to think about that, like, she’s only seven years old. What will the future look like for her?”

Two sisters, Grace and Bella Green*, want their little sister to live in a world where her bodily autonomy is constitutionally protected. “It’s scary to think about that, like, she’s only seven years old. What will the future look like for her?” said Grace.


Growing up in a liberal household, the Green sisters are grateful to their parents who always encouraged them to come to their own opinions. When asked what they wish anti-abortion advocates understood, they emphasized the need to listen and realize contradictions within the anti-abortion movement.


Grace said, “The bottom line is you never know somebody’s situation. And it’s nobody’s business but that person with a uterus who is carrying that child.”

 

*The names of Grace and Bella Green have been changed due to their request to remain anonymous.

All photos are courtesy of Lilly Kirk.


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