— Love, VOX at UCF
President of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood at UCF takes our fight to the hearts of students! Check out this OpEd she wrote for the Central Florida Future! Let us know what you think.
I was once asked why I do the work that I do. I was standing in front of 50 Planned Parenthood board members and remember being stunned by the question. It always seemed so obvious to me: There are still women out there with no access to birth control, there are still schools that do not offer comprehensive sex education and there are still people in my community who cannot afford a child or any family planning. So my answer to the “why” is, “My sisters in this world are being treated unfairly. Their access to safe and affordable health care is being threatened.”
That’s not the only reason I have for fighting for reproductive justice, but it is the one I come to most often. What we call “reproductive rights” and “reproductive justice” should be non-issues. They shouldn’t be concepts batted around in the Capitol, and women’s bodies shouldn’t be used as political junk food to fatten up debates. Students today are disproportionately affected by all anti-abortion legislation because college students are spending more on college in the past five years, so health care providers like Planned Parenthood are more essential to the community. The same legislators who cut funding to public education are those who are trying to slash Title X funding for family planning. Money and resources are being taken away from families and youth-based communities, and those responsible for the funding cuts are blaming their victims for not having any way of supporting themselves.
Planned Parenthood is an organization that aims to provide safe, affordable health care for all who need it. Nationally, about 97 percent of what Planned Parenthood offers is prevention services such as STD/STI screenings, well-woman annual exams, comprehensive sex education, breast exams and contraceptives. Planned Parenthood is a community-based organization that provides medically accurate and safe services for anyone and everyone regardless of gender, race, ability, age, socio-economic status and so on. When students and young people in our community cannot gain access to health care, then we as a state are failing to live up to the standards we promised. If we value ourselves as a community that treats its students and members with respect, a large portion of that is making sure we are safe and healthy.
My end goal is to not be labeled an advocate for reproductive justice or a feminist. In 20 years, I hope my work will be obsolete. If in 20 years gender equality has not been achieved, equal access to safe and legal health care is not true for all people, if our students are not guaranteed safe living and work environments, if some can’t afford birth control because they don’t have the same access to work benefits or education and employment, then it will be a sad state of affairs. I hope to never have to pick up a sign, defend a clinic, refer another person to rape counseling, call the White House or talk to my daughters about how their rights are forsaken because a few powerful people in this world get to decide for them what’s right for their bodies. Until that day, I belong to a large community of people willing to educate, rally, fight, call, defend and challenge the institutions that restrict our access to prevention care and bodily autonomy.
Florida women, LISTEN UP: We all deserve access to insurance plans that cover life-saving care we can count on, not coverage chosen for us by politicians—but Amendment 6 would allow politicians to interfere with a woman’s personal health care decisions!
Visit the Facebook page right now and “like” it to show your support online for patient privacy, autonomy and CHOICE! It’s imperative to gain a strong online following to support the work we and our fellow advocates do on the ground to prevent further governmental intrusion on our rights to choose and to have access to safe, affordable healthcare.