By Kristen Gell, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at the University of Richmond. Connect with Kristen and the Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ) crew on Facebook!
Things started back quickly here at the University of Richmond! We were able to get a lot done in such a small amount of time; it set a great precedent for the rest of the semester.
We started the semester off by participating in the 2015 Day of Action for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Most of SURJ stayed on campus and set up a table in the commons. They passed out sheets on how the legalization of safe abortion in the United States has lead to decreased patient mortality rates and improved the well-being of women, particularly compared to developed nations where abortion remains illegal.
While they held down the fort at the UR campus, I headed over to the General Assembly bright and early to participate in Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition’s Day of Action! We had appointments with both senators and delegates in which we either thanked them for or urged them to support upcoming bills to repeal the mandatory ultrasound requirement (SB733/HB1524) and the 24-hour waiting period between the mandatory ultrasound and abortion procedure (SB920) as well as a bill which would prevent employers from taking adverse action against employees for their reproductive health care decisions (HB2287).
In between meetings, we divided up into small groups and went to known supporters of reproductive justice within the General Assembly to thank them for all that they do. While many were out of the office, we were able to surprise a few senators and delegates! It was a great opportunity for us to show how much we appreciate all they do to further the well-being of Virginia women and families.
The following week, I traveled back to the Senate to attend an Education and Health Committee meeting. It was here that aforementioned SB733 and SB920 would be voted on. The pro-choice coalition had a very strong presence in the room, drawing in many supporters of reproductive justice and health care. The entire permitted time for public comments was used.
I spoke out in advocacy for university students, talking about how legislature such as the mandatory ultrasound requirement disproportionately affects young women and college students who may not have the funds or ability to miss several class days and lack a mode of transportation to reach an abortion provider multiple times.
Unfortunately, both bills failed to report.
Back on campus, SURJ members worked diligently to design and finish our first zine of the semester. It was great to be able to get it all done in one sitting. We hope this sets a great precedent for the rest of the semester!
In this edition, we included some of the great student responses we received during our tabling event on Thank You, Birth Control Day last semester. We also included some of the quick facts we used. In addition, we advertised for upcoming events, including the documentary screening we’ll be having, The Vagina Monologues, which we are helping to fund, and our next meeting, in which we will be sending valentines to legislatures! We will also be passing out the zines at TVM. We’re hoping they’re a success!
With many great events coming up in the next few weeks, this is sure to be a great semester at the University of Richmond!