November 18, 2015

Student Campaign Highlights Reproductive Health Care Rights 

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The Cornell chapter of Vox — Voices for Planned Parenthood — is running a political action campaign through this Friday, which aims to educate students on the importance of learning about and supporting reproductive justice.

The campaign, titled “Reproductive Freedom is an American Value,” seeks to initiate dialogue among Cornell students on a range of topics related to reproductive health care, including women’s freedom of choice and the importance of accessible health care for all people regardless of background.

Zoe Maisel ’18 speaks about reproductive health care access in New York state at an event co-hosted by Voices of Planned Parenthood and Cornell Democrats Wednesday afternoon (Sonya Ryu / Sun Senior Photographer)

Zoe Maisel ’18 speaks about reproductive health care access in New York state at an event co-hosted by Voices of Planned Parenthood and Cornell Democrats Wednesday afternoon (Sonya Ryu / Sun Senior Photographer)

The campaign will include informative activities, speeches and messages posted throughout the week.

Vox Co-President Cassidy Clark ’17 highlighted the importance of the coming election for reproductive health care.

“In terms of the upcoming elections, this campaign is important because the struggle for reproductive freedom did not end with Roe v. Wade (1973),” Clark said. “We as a nation face more and more restrictions to access to reproductive health each year. Cornell students need to be informed about these injustices so they can act as voters, citizens and activists to let politicians know that we care about all people, their access to health care and their right to make their own reproductive decisions.”

In order to educate students on the politics surrounding reproductive health care, Vox is showcasing several maps, created by the Guttmacher Institute in New York, which use a gradation scale to show the states where reproductive health care has been cut due to negative attitudes and state policies barring the operation of clinics like Planned Parenthood, according to Clark. One map highlights states where policies are the strictest, such as Idaho, while another map highlights places where young adolescents have the hardest time accessing reproductive health care.

One of the campaign’s events was co-hosted by Vox and Cornell Democrats Wednesday afternoon. Vox public relations and social media chair Zoe Maisel ’18 gave a short presentation about reproductive health care access in New York state, which was followed by a group discussion.

Part of this week’s initiative includes a photo campaign on Ho Plaza, where students from around the country can pose with their state. The group hopes that displaying the attitudes of different regions publicly throughout campus will spark conversation among students who come from different backgrounds.

To emphasize the importance of students’ democratic rights to vote in the fight to shift this national trend in reproductive rights legislation, Vox is hosting two days of voter registration drives.

Clark added that the campaign “hope[s] to shed light on the hardships faced around the country due to legislation limiting access to reproductive health care.”

“Cornell students can make a difference in the realm of reproductive rights by becoming educated about the issues and taking political action,” Clark said. “We want to help facilitate that process.”

The group also aims to show students that although they are currently living in a largely liberal state, others around the country must struggle for access to reproductive health care, which includes everything from contraception to abortion.

Vox Co-President Kate Poor  ’16 said she hopes the campaign will both educate and mobilize students on issues regarding reproductive freedom.

“We hope our campaign will illuminate the jarring inequities of health care access across the nation based on state policy, socioeconomic status, gender, race, sexuality and a torrent of other disenfranchising barriers that preclude individuals from receiving the services they need,” said Poor, who is also a columnist for The Sun. “Finally, we hope to mobilize campus against ill-informed policies that continue to curtail reproductive rights and deny millions of individuals access to vital health care services.”

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