Hey! I Don’t know if y’all are aware, but there’s an Election next week!
Of course in this election cycle, the United States will get to vote on its next President; however what we often never hear about are the ballot initiatives or amendments to the state constitution that are also present on the ballot to be voted on by the people. IRONICALLY ENOUGH none of the Amendments this session were introduced by the people they affect!
Amendment 6 is particularly jarring, one because the language is extremely misleading and two it puts politicians, like Rick Scott, right in the doctors office, making decisions on behalf of women they don’t know! These changes make no exceptions for women facing difficult medical decisions because of severe fetal abnormalities and can even prevent some pregnant women with chronic illnesses like cancer from getting the care they need.
Politicians need to stay where they belong, and where they do NOT belong is in between me, my doctor and my family.
SO WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I’ll tell you…
The National Organization for Women at UCF, VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood at UCF and Feminist Majority Foundation are taking action TUESDAY 10/30 to inform students at UCF about this attack on women and healthcare!
We will be performing a SOUND CANNON outside of the Student Union, to draw attention to students and folks walking by and then engaging them on some brief education about Amendment 6!
The cannon will begin at 1:30 pm but we will be out there engaging with students and voters from 10am-2pm Tuesday. Come and join us. Come make a change on campus, participate in an IMPORTANT state-wide campaign and tell your friends VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 6!
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.
The “Genocide Awareness Project” (GAP) is a radical anti-choice group whose mission it is to tour college campuses and compare abortion to “recognized forms of genocide”. However, this logic is inherently flawed and drastically offensive as they compare a woman’s right to choose to Adolf Hitler persecuting and mass murdering Jews in the Holocaust, to lynching of African Americans in the 20th century, to oil spills…
They are infamous for erecting invasive structures that may trigger or offend and all the accommodations they allot are “beware, graphic images ahead” posters. But by the time you see the warning signs, the murals of doctored images and still births are completely visible. Many women on this campus have had abortions and do not need medically inaccurate information thrown at them to make them feel guilty about their decision.
One of the most common rhetorical strategies conservatives or religious zealots use when attacking women is to say that women cannot be trusted with agency over their own bodies. They are either coerced, forced or tricked into having abortions or they “don’t really know what’s happening to them or their ‘baby’”. This is FALSE. Women can and should be trusted over their own bodies. Women do not have abortions cavalierly. Women know what they’re doing and are making a decision for themselves. No law, no government, no religion, no other person should ever come in between a woman and her choices regarding her own body.
GAP apparently prides itself on respecting the people on the college campuses they tour. This is a joke. Not only does GAP claim to distribute medically accurate information , they also say “[they] do not yell or use amplified sound.” This is a lie. Emily Helm, a student and member of National Organization for Women called the campus police (who took over 30 min to arrive) because one GAP woman was using a microphone and amplifier which they were not permitted to use. They applied for the permit and got denied by the Office of Student Involvement, but broke that rule and then had their amp promptly shut down by the police.
The progressive community at UCF (University of Central Florida) was notified by a source that GAP was coming last week, however we did not know what day until they were on campus with their huge disturbing display of false information already set up at 8am. They blocked off the entire “free assembly” area by the Math and Physics building with metal police barricades to “prevent damage to their posters and others”. Members of National Organization for Women quickly organized with members of the Student Labor Action Project, College Democrats at UCF and pro-choice students to spread the message that CHOICE is a human right and shall not be dictated, judged, intimidated, or regulated by some foreign source. We held signs saying “THIS IS BULLSHIT”, “WARNING, POORLY PHOTOSHOPPED IMAGES AHEAD”, “KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL”, and “TRUST WOMEN TO TRUST THEMSELVES”. All of these messages were received proudly and enthusiastically by the majority of students walking by. Some stayed to join our protest, others could not stay because they were having severe emotional reactions from the graphic nature of the photographs.
GAP had what they called a “free speech board” where passersby could write down their thoughts and reactions to the images and to their zealous, anti-choice rhetoric. Well, we were going to tell them exactly what we had to say, and what that was, was “KEEP ABORTION SAFE AND LEGAL!”. We took over the back half of their board and then students, faculty, and community members came by and wrote down how they felt about the importance of choice and what it meant to them! It was a beautiful moment, where the community came together under such distress and aggression and peacefully showed their support and love for women.
We absolutely stand by the notion that people have the right to spread their message on campus to whoever wants to listen. HOWEVER, there was no choice in the matter whether you wanted to know what they had to say or not – one was FORCED to see these disgusting displays of bigotry and hate. No matter what one thinks about abortion it is legal and it is my RIGHT to choose what I will do with my body and I will make that decision between myself and who I choose to include. No false argument or screaming patriarchal asshole is going to change my mind about my body.
There have been a myriad of anti-choice bills going through the Senate and House this legislative session—the TRAP bill just passed through both Senate and House committees and will be heard for a floor vote. It is unconscionable for our decisions as women, as people of many classes/races/genders/family situations/religions, as sexual beings to be regulated by the GOVERNMENT that is supposed to make us free. This is why we fight. Continue to fight in what way you can. Continue to stand in solidarity to those already fighting and those picking up the fight. It’s often difficult and not always pretty but it needs to be done.
If you want to get more involved in pro-choice activism and the reproductive justice movement at UCF, message us!
When you say the word “choice” in the progressive community at the University of Central Florida, one of many things will happen: 1. Someone will yell “HELL YEAH!”; 2. A piece of damning anti-woman legislature will be brought to the conversation and a fit of rage will follow; and/or 3. The organizing begins. As university students, we have a lot of experience witnessing anti-woman, anti-sex, and anti-choice legislature that is neither novel nor relenting. From this, we organize around our frustration and we organize for our community, to not only show ourselves as supporters of women, of Planned Parenthood, and of choice, but also to show ourselves as people who are affected by this legislature and will not stand for it! So needless to say, it has been and continues to be very busy around UCF this year; always looking for new opportunities to spread our message.
When Raquel Ortega from Choice USA contacted VOX a couple of weeks ago and told me she wanted to come to UCF and connect with our community, we at VOX were ecstatic to have her come and discuss the Reproductive Justice movement in Florida, local ways to get involved and what all of these unforgivable pieces of legislation will mean not only to Orlando or to Florida but nation-wide.
Often enough, when a rep from a large non-profit like Choice USA comes to a college campus, they are more interested in how THEY can inspire you to do MORE, to do SOMETHING to help their cause. But Choice USA took great interest in what VOX and the other progressive, pro-choice orgs were already doing on this campus. No one knows better than the students on the ground what a college campus can and should do to further our cause, and with great reverence and respect, Choice USA understands this. Because Choice USA is a youth run, youth driven non-profit there is a huge connection between what we do here on the university level (face-to-face) and what these organizers do on a national level. The ability for us to work together building off of one another is a quality that we at VOX and at UCF love and one that makes us so happy to work with Choice USA and Planned Parenthood!
Being a part of this large progressive community that has such a youth-based driving force behind it is inspirational. Young people are the future AND the present of this movement. We are frustrated. We are pissed off. But we are NOT tired. We will NOT roll over. And we will NOT stop fighting. Here is how YOU can get involved and join the fight for CHOICE!
Come out to the University of Central Florida Student Union for a MASS ACTION fighting against the BC Refusal Clause in the Affordable Care Act. Although President Obama decided today that insurance companies would be mandated to provide no cost preventative care to EVERY WOMAN, our fight is not over!
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/152065174910836/
Press release for the ACTION: http://prochoiceinflorida.tumblr.com/post/17342278024/action-this-tuesday-february-14th-at-noon-we-do
by Ida V. Eskamani
I have a usual routine on my way to school. Almost always running late, I grab a coffee and sit in traffic, hoping I’ll get to class on time. The plus-side to this routine is that I get my daily dose of National Public Radio. Well, on this morning it wasn’t such a plus-side. On this morning, I tuned in to the Diane Rehm Show to find an interesting topic of discussion: the Obama Administration’s recent decision requiring that all employers, including religious ones, to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives.
Like any good, healthy debate, this segment including individuals for and against this move by the Obama Administration.
And like every typical discussion regarding our accessibility to contraceptives, I got really pissed. The individual representing religious institutions was, as expected, a male. He described this new policy as an attack on religious institutions and a violation of their First Amendment religious freedom. He also stated that religious institutions believe that the “morning-after” pill is the equivalent to the “abortion pill.”
Fortunately, the two women on this panel, and the host, were much more intelligent than this individual. They stated that the morning-after pill is NOT the “abortion pill,” and that employees should not be forced to follow the beliefs of their employers. And since when did “beliefs” make laws? Employees and students at religious institutions should be educated on their options and given a choice. That is the basic principle in this nation and the only way our First Amendment rights cannot be violated.
No one is forcing those that practice any religious faith to use contraceptives. This policy just ensures that everyone working for religious institutions, no matter their faith, have access to birth control.
To say the least, I was pretty livid after listening to the Diane Rehm Show. I was also reminded why we always have to defend our right to choice. Later that week, I was at an event with Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius. An older woman in the audience asked a question: “Secretary, I would be remised if I did not ask you to reconsider your stance on the Catholic Church.”
After the event concluded, I immediately walked up to the Secretary and thanked her for that stance – “Thank you for your latest stance on contraceptives, and on behalf of young women everywhere, I hope you continue to make contraceptives more accessible.”
Religious institutions should not be allowed to withhold access to contraceptives, or any other form of knowledge. Contrary to what the panelist on the Dian Rehm show states, this isn’t an attack on religion. This is an attack on women. And we’re already ready to fight.