Voices for Choices: Protecting Reproductive Rights

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

A Pro-Choice Task Force was established in 1985 to help defend reproductive freedoms for all women and men, maintaining an emphasis on contraceptive issues and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. The group, now called Swat VOX: Voices for Choices, work on a variety of projects include escorting patients through protesters on Saturday mornings at Planned Parenthood, showing films, and providing contraceptives for students. “We expected more enthusiasm from such a liberal campus,” states Brandy Monk-Payton, ’07. Attendance at meetings may not be causing fire hazards, but VOX is certainly fighting for a cause.

From 8:00a.m until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings, students escort patients of all ages and backgrounds into the Planned Parenthood on 12th & Locust. These patients face a diverse crowd of protesters. Praying protesters, screaming protesters with signs, and those who announce the patient’s afterlife destination bombard patients with pamphlets and questions or block the doors to the building. Every week police are present; however, VOX members say that things rarely get out of hand. Escorters are trained prior to the experience with rules such as keeping their hands in their pockets so that there are no accusations that a protester was grabbed or mishandled. “It’s upsetting that young women go to Planned Parenthood for a variety of reasons, yet they all face equal adversity. They face anger, hate and abuse whether they are just seeking their own emergency contraception, getting tested for STDs, having an abortion, or pursuing prenatal care,” says Emily Nolte, ’07.

While mornings at Planned Parenthood are VOX’s most prominent endeavors, there are other ways members can contribute. A lesser confrontational option is volunteering at Planned Parenthood once a month for an evening’s time. Duties for these volunteers include stuffing envelopes for upcoming mailings, making posters for educational or awareness events, or even working in the waiting room of the clinic, registering women for the Planned Parenthood Action Network email list.

Around campus, VOX sponsors film screenings such as this year’s “The Lady’s Room” and most recently has kicked off a Condoms and Candy Campaign. The success of the campaign has inspired a Condoms and Candy cane Campaign, which will be featured this holiday season at a dining hall near you.

This past spring VOX participated in the March for Women’s Lives in the nation’s capital. Sponsored by NARAL, the ACLU Feminine Majority, and NOW; members of VOX and 200 other Swatties marched to demand political and social justice for women and girls, protect the right to abortion, birth control and all reproductive health services, and the right to have children and plan families without government interference.

Still not convinced of their worthy cause? Keep in mind that even if you yourself may never need Planned Parenthood’s services, a close friend or family member may, whether it be an abortion, contraception, or family planning counseling. “Especially right now when these rights are in jeopardy, everyone should be fighting to save them,” says Nolte, ’07. Interested students are enthusiastically encouraged to attend the next meeting, this Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. in Kohlberg coffee bar.

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