BREAKING: Anti-choice zoning moves forward in Manassas

URGENT NEWS: The city of Manassas is closer than ever to passing a law that virtually bans abortion providers within the city!

Last night, the Manassas City Council and Mayor Hal Parrish voted to move forward with a zoning ordinance that unfairly singles out women’s health centers for expensive zoning hurdles, and would make it all but impossible for them to relocate or open in the city.

We’ve seen this before. Almost two years ago, the Fairfax City Council passed an eerily similar proposal…and only a few months later, Virginia’s busiest women’s

health center closed its doors. We refuse to allow another women’s health center to become the victim of targeted zoning attacks.

 Join us next Monday at the Manassas City Council meeting to speak out against this dangerous proposal!

A protest sign against the ordinance sits outside of the Manassas city hall

A protest sign against the ordinance sits outside of the Manassas city hall

Last night’s vote was nail-bitingly close, with three City Council members voting in support of the anti-choice measure and three councilmembers voting against. Faced with a split city council, Mayor Hal Parrish – who is currently running for Virginia State Senate – cast the tie-breaking vote in support of this dangerous attack on women’s health centers.

It was a devastating move…but we still have a chance to stop this from becoming law. Next Monday the Mayor and City Council are meeting again to take a final vote on the city’s zoning update, which includes this dangerous proposal. 

Please join us on Monday at the Manassas City Council meeting to stand up for women’s health centers – in the city and beyond.

Thank you for all you do!

PS: If you haven’t already, sign our petition telling Mayor Parrish and the Manassas City Council NOT to discriminate against women’s health centers!

Campus Choice Movie Night

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or

With the snacks ready, DVD loaded and Twitter opened, pro-choice college students across the Commonwealth were united by film and social media as they all pressed play on the documentary 12th and Delaware and discussed the deceitful tactics of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).Campus Movie Night Graphic 2

Students at the University of Richmond, Old Dominion University, the College of William and Mary, and James Madison University all participated in NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s 1st ever Campus Choice Movie Night.

In an effort to unite our campus programs, students and campus organizations at all four schools sat down to watch the film and tweet their reactions using the hashtag #ExposeVaCPCs.

Even though some had seen the movie before, the film’s depiction of CPCs and the lies they tell patients struck a nerve with all those who watched.

Providing moviegoers with a fly-on-the-wall view of the abortion rights battle, 12th and Delaware tells the story of a unique Florida street corner where women dealing with unwanted pregnancies can find a crisis pregnancy center positioned directly across from an abortion clinic.

Kristen QuoteWhile the film did a great job depicting both sides of the abortion debate, our campus viewers were disturbed by many of the deceitful tactics used by the CPC in the film.

Many instances of CPC deceit throughout the film sparked tweets and conversation from our college viewers. For instance, our Twitter feed exploded by angry college followers as the director of the CPC told a patient that, “Condoms are only 85% effective.” CPC literature regarding the (false) link between abortion and breast cancer also produced a disturbed reaction from our tweeters.

When the film concluded, many of our followers expressed their appreciation for the movie and eye-opening information it provided regarding CPCs in America. The group was shocked to learn that crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion clinics 4,000 to 816 in the United States.

Without a doubt, Campus Choice Movie Night was a success and we cannot thank our campus allies enough for helping us to #ExposeVACPCs!

Tell Manassas: Don’t Discriminate Against Women’s Health Centers!

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or

Last March, women in Northern Virginia breathed a sign of relief when the Manassas City Council voted 4-2 to defeat a copycat TRAP proposal introduced by anti-choice councilman Marc Aveni.

If you’ll recall, Aveni has been on a mission to regulate and restrict the city’s lone abortion clinic since coming to office in 2006. In October 2014, the councilman and his troop of anti-choice crusaders introduced a motion that would require abortion clinics to obtain a special use permit and city council approval before opening facilities in Manassas. The measure would have made it disproportionally difficult for abortion providers to operate within city limits.

As mentioned, Aveni’s efforts were–thankfully– defeated, but not without future challenge. Instead, the Manassas City Council decided to review and move forward with a comprehensive update the city’s current zoning laws, which brings us to today.

After a year of review, the Manassas City Council will vote on amendments to its zoning regulations– amendments that would blatantly discriminate against abortion clinics and affect the future of such facilities within Manassas city limits.

Putting aside the boring world of city zoning and land ordinances, here’s what you need to know:

The proposed zoning update directly attacks women’s healthcare centers. Period.

The Manassas zoning update treats women’s health centers differently from doctors’ and dentists’ offices (where the same level of outpatient procedures are performed) just because they provide abortion services. This is purposeful discrimination by politicians, and it places extra burdens on abortion providers.

Abortion is constitutionally protected, extremely safe, and routine procedure – and all facilities (including women’s health centers, dentist’s offices and doctor’s offices) performing similar, non-invasive outpatient procedures should be treated alike. Singling out women’s health centers because they might provide abortion services is simply discriminatory and not grounded in medical reality.

Not only would the proposed zoning update discriminate against local women’s health centers, but it would also require some abortion providers to obtain a burdensome Special Use Permit in several areas of the city.

A special use permit politicizes zoning decisions and requires a process full of hurdles, including application fees, legal fees related to filing, a public hearing and staff review, and approval by politicians on the City Council. If subject to Special Use Permits, women’s health centers would need to apply, pay a fee and persuade the highly political, 6-member, mostly male, City Council that providing local women with family planning services, cancer screenings, and preventative care is important to the Manassas community – all before they could open within city limits.

This is the bottom line: The proposed zoning update should not make it disproportionately difficult for women’s health centers to operate or locate within Manassas City. Updated zoning laws should treat all healthcare providers equally, without discrimination and politically motivated interference.

The Manassas City Council and Mayor Harry Parrish II are allowing for public comments on the issue at their next meeting on Monday, March 16th. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia will be there in full force– speaking out against the discriminatory zoning updates and demanding equality for women’s healthcare centers–and we would love for you to join us. RSVP here!

Honoring Abortion Providers during Women’s History Month

The following op-ed was written for “The Breeze” by Sarah Hogg, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at James Madison University. Feel free to email Sarah or connect with her on Twitter @SarahLovely.

March is Women’s History Month, a time where we can celebrate and honor women in history who have contributed to society in meaningful and revolutionary ways. This is also a time where we can pay homage to women who paved the way for the women’s equality movement and recognize those women who are currently doing wonderful work to further feminist goals in our contemporary world. People of all genders can draw strength from the awe-inspiring women who came before us and use this month as a time of reflection about how far the women’s equality movement has come and where we’re going next. While Women’s History Month is widely known and appreciated, there is a certain day in March that is often forgotten, but is also extremely important—the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.

The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers has been observed annually on March 10th since 1996. March 10th is the anniversary of Dr. David Gunn’s death in 1993, the first abortion provider to be murdered by anti-choice extremists. Since 1993, the violence has only gotten worse—on May 31st, 2009, abortion provider Dr. David Tiller was murdered, perhaps the most well-known case of anti-choice violence in history. Furthermore, clinics around the nation are relentlessly threatened and antagonized by anti-choice protestors—a form of violence in itself. It is not uncommon for staff at women’s health centers that provide abortions to go through intense training on what to do if a bomb threat is called in or if a gunman enters the clinic. When I interned at my local Planned Parenthood, we were trained to check under our cars for explosives when we left work for the day. Doctors, nurses, and all other clinic staff, escorts, and volunteers are under constant threat—anyone who plays a crucial role in abortion access can potentially be effected by anti-choice violence.

The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers honors the bravery of abortion providers and recognizes the necessary and courageous work they do every single day. Showing appreciation for abortion providers ties in perfectly with Women’s History Month—while doctors, nurses, and all other clinic staff can be of any gender, protecting abortion access and providing abortions themselves inherently helps advance women’s equality. Pro-choice activists and advocates work tirelessly everyday so that women can seek abortion access (and all other types of reproductive healthcare) in safe and legal ways, and the doctors providing those abortions are true heroes.

Reproductive freedom is a fundamental part of feminism and the women’s equality movement, something we cannot forget when celebrating and honoring Women’s History Month. We must remember what life was like pre-Roe v. Wade and pay homage to the doctors and activists who made abortion possible before 1973 while also working to prevent any future anti-choice attacks. This Women’s History Month, consider taking time out of your day on March 10th to honor abortion providers by writing a letter, composing a tweet, or engaging in many of the online campaigns held by pro-choice organizations across the country. Your words of support and encouragement will go a long way!

Recap: 2015 Virginia Legislative Session

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or

The 2015 Virginia legislative session has officially come and gone. The past two months brought many setbacks and successes, but more importantly it proved that we can accomplish great things with help from our amazing volunteers.

For that, we cannot thank you enough!

In case you missed it, here’s what happened for choice during this year’s General Assembly:

Kathleen MurphyJanuary 6th: Virginians in the 34th district elected pro-choice champion Kathleen Murphy to the House of Delegates. Murphy claimed the seat once held by the extremely anti-choice congresswoman Barbara Comstock.

January 8th: In conjunction with other advocates for Virginia women and families, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia launched the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition–a new partnership to secure women’s equality and advance women’s rights throughout the Commonwealth. Designed to promote women’s health and safety, economic opportunity, and democratic participation, the WEA unveiled its 2015 Women’s Equality Agenda— a package of proposed legislation designed to progress women’s issues throughout the state in hopes of achieving equality for Virginia women.

January 22nd: In honor of the anniversary of Roe v. WadeDay of Action3, the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition held its 2015 Day of Action. Virginians from across the Commonwealth came together to stand up for women’s health. The day proved to be successful, as activists met with legislators, took to the streets, and made phone calls in support of reproductive rights and Virginia women!

In Northern Virginia, activists called over 80 legislators, urging them to vote in favor of SB 773 –a repeal of Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound requirement sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke. 50 lobbyists gathered in Richmond to meet with legislators and discuss pro-choice/pro-women legislation.

Day of ActionSupporters in Hampton Roads held a rally and made over 200 phone calls in favor of pro-choice legislation. A live tweet chat was held as well as multiple campus events–including tabling, a coffee chat and a giant social media push.

January 29th: Three proactive pro-choice bills were introduced before the Senate Education and Health committee and a group of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia activists were present to testify for each piece of legislation.

Senator Donald McEachin presented SB 769, a bill designed to repeal the current ban on insurance coverage for abortion within Virginia’s health care exchange. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated 7-8 (a party line vote) in committee.

Several pro-choice activist were present to speak out in favor of SB 733, a bill presented by Senator Mamie Locke aimed to overturn Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound requirement. Locke’s bill was also defeated by a 7-8 vote.

SB 920 was the last pro-choice bill to be introduced that day. Sponsored by Senator Jennifer Wexton, if passed, the legislation would remove the 24-hour mandatory waiting period prior to abortion. Unfortunately, SB 920 was also defeated.

January 30th: The House Courts of Justice Constitutional Law Subcommittee heard testimony from our activists and voted on the following pro-choice bills:B8ntQs3CEAAqyk3.jpg_large

  • HB 1524: Delegate Jeion Ward introduced a House version of legislation to repeal Virginia’s burdensome and medically-unnecessary mandatory ultrasound requirement.
  • HB 2287: Introduced by Delegate Patrick Hope, the bill would prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against the reproductive health decisions of an employee.
  • HB 1541: Legislation introduced by Delegate Vivian Watts aimed to define birth control to mean “contraceptive methods that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” and is not considered as a means of abortion.

Unfortunately, all three bills were defeated.

February 6th: NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia activists gathered at the General Assembly building in Richmond to witness firsthand how members of a House subcommittee would vote on HB 2321—a dangerous anti-choice bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation.

va signsThe legality of the 20-week abortion ban was questioned by members of the House Courts Subcommittee on Constitutional Law from the start.

After careful examination and questioning, the bill’s chief patron Delegate Dave LaRock was given the choice to either let the subcommittee apprehensively cote on the bill as is, or let the bill be pulled and reworked later down the road. LaRock decided to withdraw his bill – and women across Virginia breathed a sigh of relief.

February 24th: In a final anti-choice push, the Virginia House of Delegates introduced a budget outline that included many dangerous measures to attack women’s health. If passed, budget items 4-5.04 #1h and #6h would have stripped funding for low-income women who suffer tragic fetal health complications and uphold medically inappropriate restrictions on Virginia women’s health centers.

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Thanks to the action from our outspoken volunteers, the Virginia budget included zero attacks on women’s health and rights!

Again, we want to think you for helping us stop #antichoice attacks during this year’s General Assembly. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We will NOT stop fighting for women’s health and rights–and we cannot do it without your support.

How we worked to #StopTheBans in Virginia!

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or

stop virginia's abortion ban graphicOnly two months into 2015, pro-choice activists in Virginia and across the country have already fought back against record breaking number of anti-abortion bills. In fact, by the first week of February, state legislatures across the country had already introduced over 100 bills designed to restrict access to safe, legal abortion!

In Virginia, we saw our fair share of measures to shame women and attack reproductive rights. The Commonwealth was one of 14 different states to introduce a 20-week abortion ban – a cruel and dangerous measure that poses a serious threat to women’s health, ignores women’s health needs and individual circumstances, and seeks to ban abortions with only the most narrow of exceptions. You can read the full text of HB 2321, Virginia’s 20-week abortion ban, here.

Fortunately, pro-choice activists across Virginia stood with us to defeat HB 2321 and #StopTheBans here in the Commonwealth – and we cannot thank you enough!

Here’s how YOU helped us #StopTheBans in VA:

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.33.29 PMIn the midst of phone banking on our 2015 Day of Action (celebrating the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade), we were outraged to learn that a dangerous 20-week abortion ban bill had been introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates. As if introducing the bill on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade wasn’t enough, the extreme language of HB 2321 would have made any abortion after 20-week a felony offense, with zero exception for severe fetal anomalies or for survivors of rape or incest. In fact, the bill was strikingly similar to a federal 20-week ban that had been defeated the same day because it was so extreme!

We were seriously alarmed – and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia immediately took action to fight back. That night we alerted our activists, began contacting legislators, and started an intensive campaign to #StopTheBans in our state.

The response was amazing.

vols making callsVirginia Senators and Delegates received over 1,220 emails urging them to oppose the 20-week abortion ban, with almost 250 of those emails generated through Facebook alone! Our supporters made approximately 500 calls to activists in target legislative districts, and we generated over 50 calls from constituents to critical Delegates on the House Constitutional Law subcommittee (which eventually heard the bill).

Our dedicated activists also submitted 5 letters to the editor at various newspapers detailing the flaws in the bill, it’s dangerous impacts, and the need for Virginia lawmakers to trust women in making their own personal, private medical decisions. And when the House Courts Subcommittee on Constitutional Law finally convened to hear HB 2321 on February 6th, pro-choice supporters filled the committee room, ready to speak out against the dangerous legislation.

Five activists were present to represent and share the stories of Virginia women who sought later abortions. Four pro-choice doctors prepared testimony opposing the abortion ban and two brave Virginia women were present to share their personal late abortion stories. We cannot thank you enough for joining us!

Thankfully, all of our hard work paid off. After intense criticism from members of the House subcommittee HB 2321 was withdrawn. It was official: with the help of our supporters, activists, and brave citizens like YOU, we were able to #StopTheBans in Virginia!

va signsUnfortunately, we know the battle is far from over. By the time it was withdrawn, over 35 Virginia lawmakers had signed onto the ban – far, far too many. What’s worse, the bill’s sponsor Delegate LaRock has made it clear that he will bring the legislation up again next year. And with anti-choice legislators still dominating the House and Senate, it is critical that we remain vigilant.

Again, we want to thank you for all you did to help us #StopTheBans in Virginia. We will not stop fighting for women’s health and rights – and we’re so proud to have you with us.

20-Week Abortion Ban: Defeated!

By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or

On February 6th, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia activists gathered at the General Assembly building in Richmond to witness firsthand how members of a House subcommittee would vote on HB 2321—a dangerous anti-choice bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation.

Here’s how it all went down.

First off, chief patron Delegate Dave LaRock presented his bill to the House Courts Subcommittee on Constitutional Law. He claimed that he was sponsoring the legislation due to “fetal pain” — an anti-choice argument that, although it has been debunked by major medical associations, professionals and studies, has proved incredibly popular within state legislatures across the country.

Right off the bat, the 20 week ban bill received great criticism.

Even after praising the goal of the bill and expressing his support, subcommittee chairman Delegate David Albo stumbled over the bill’s wording and began to question the phrasing of certain lines and their meaning. Multiple times he stopped to ask Delegate LaRock to explain key phrases, to which LaRock himself–the chief patron and writer of the bill– could not answer.

As the bill continued to be examined, it became clear that Delegate LaRock did not understand his own piece of legislation. After many failed attempts to correctly answer the questions he was asked, LaRock handed the floor over to two National Right to Life attorneys (responsible for writing the model legislation) who he then relied on to field and answer the more challenging questions.

Many of those difficult questions came from Delegate Gregory Habeeb, who although he admitted his support for the bill, found many discrepancies in the way HB 2321 would coexist with the current Virginia Code. Habeeb raised great questions, many of which could not be answered by the bill’s chief patron or his supporters.

In the end, Delegate LaRock was given the choice to either let the subcommittee apprehensively vote on the bill as is, or let the bill be pulled and reworked later down the road. LaRock decided to withdraw his bill – and women across Virginia breathed a sigh of relief.

Although the withdrawal of HB 2321 was certainly a win for pro-choice Virginians, we still have much more work to do.

For one, many of the members of the House Courts Subcommittee on Constitutional Law expressed their support for the bill’s intent and purpose, even though they saw faults in its overall legality. While questioning certain pieces of the legislation, Delegates Albo, Habeeb and Kilgore (a co-sponsor of the bill) all went out of their way to express their appreciate towards and praise LaRock’s efforts to ban 20-week abortions. What’s even more unnerving is that a total of 29 delegates and 5 senators signed on as co-patrons to the bill–giving it even greater momentum if it were to leave the subcommittee!

Furthermore, Delegate LaRock made it clear that he intends to bring the 20 week ban up again next year – and despite their hesitation towards HB 2321, multiple members of the House subcommittee suggested that they would support a new and improved version.

Finally, the subcommittee only heard the voices of conservative anti-choice lobbyists and lawmakers — while Virginia women and families, including those present to testify in opposition to the bill, were completely ignored. While we’re thankful that the bill was ultimately withdrawn, the biased tone of the debate made it all the more evident that many of our lawmakers lack basic understanding about later abortion and the women who choose to access it. As we witnessed in that hearing, many Virginia lawmakers are continuing to attack women’s health and rights – often without hearing at all from Virginia women. This is unacceptable, plain and simple.

Here’s what some of our amazing activists and volunteers had to say about the hearing:

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Thank you to ALL who helped us fight back!

Loving the Movement

By Sarah Hogg, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at James Madison University. Feel free to email Sarah or connect with her on Twitter @SarahLovely.

As we all know, February is the month of love. Everything seems to center around Valentine’s Day, and if you don’t have a partner, constantly being bombarded with messages of romance and true love can be pretty isolating. It gets hard to practice self-care when we’re saturated with the idea that our primary concern should be finding a partner. Furthermore, taking care of ourselves as activists is already a difficult task—while this line of work is deeply rewarding, it is also very demanding. In order to combat some of these potential negative feelings, I gathered a few of my friends and asked them to tell the world why they love this movement, both as a reminder of why we do the work we do and also as a reminder that Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to be centered around a romantic partner. Check out the photos below!

Working on this campaign with my fellow reproductive justice activists and friends helped me ground myself this Valentine’s Day. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in all of the setbacks we face—with the rapid proposal (and passage) of anti-choice laws all across the United States, it’s no wonder we get tied up in the negatives. Getting burnt out is a normal thing—I don’t know any progressive activists who haven’t gotten tired, weary, and fed up at least once in their lives as advocates. Sometimes it seems like all the bad stuff out there is just too much to deal with. There are times where I don’t want to get out of bed because, well, let’s face it—this is hard. However, when things get rough, I think it’s especially important to examine why we do this, why we love it, why we fight. It can help us nourish our activist roots and allows us to grow.

I am truly in love with the work that I do. There’s nothing I love more. I know this, I’ve known it since I worked my first election cycle, since the first time I walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic to volunteer, since I ran my first campus campaign with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. I’ve never really lost touch with loving reproductive justice, but sometimes reminding myself why I do helps re-energize me and inspires me to do more. Furthermore, reflecting on this love is a form of self-care for me—activism in itself is self-care for me because it engages the deepest parts of me and lets me do what I’m most passionate about. Reconnecting with this love is healthy and feels really, really good.

The folks working in the reproductive justice movement are some of the fiercest, hard-working, resilient people I know. I’m proud to stand with them and work towards a common goal of reproductive freedom for all (one of the many reasons I love reproductive justice is that it is intersectional!). I’m thankful for the chance to get in touch with my roots with a fantastic group of young feminist activist.

So, this year (and every year), my Valentine is reproductive justice, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

An update from the University of Richmond

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.

Day of Action3

Meeting the Delegate Carr during the 2015 Day of Action!

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.

Day of Action2

In between meetings during the 2015 Day of Action at the Capitol.

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!

January with William and Mary’s Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX)

By Jenny Rossberg, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at the College of William and Mary. Connect with Jenny at

VOX Blog 1

VOX members Taylor Medley and Sadie Meadows

January was a short month for VOX, since we only got back to school on the 21st, but we’re already off to a great, action-packed start!

January 22nd was the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and VOX participated in several events in order to show our support for this landmark decision, including a small rally outside of the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg and a tabling session in our student center.

VOX students and Williamsburg community members held bright, friendly signs to show their support for the Roe anniversary. Two members, Taylor Medley and Haley Arata, said the community responded very positively to their presence. People honked in support as they drove by, while others stopped to talk to the sign-bearers and express their support for the pro-choice movement.

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Some more of our lovely pro-choice activists, Ashley Meredith and Danielle Horridge

The next day, VOX set up a table with a Roe v. Wade anniversary poster and (of course) our usual supply of condoms, buttons, and information. Students were happy to see us tabling so soon in the semester, and a lot of new people signed up for our emailing list. In turn, we had a huge turnout at our first general member meeting the following Monday!

This month, VOX also got together to talk about sexual assault on college campuses. In our last general member meeting, we read several articles about UVA and the university’s decision to forbid sororities from going out on the fraternities’ bid night. Rape culture on college campuses, issues of victim-blaming, and institutional negligence toward addressing these problems head-on are just as relevant on the William and Mary campus as they are at UVA.

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All the pro-choice supports with their bright signs and bright smiles!

VOX works closely with the sexual assault prevention/healthy relationships branch of HOPE, a student group that promotes students’ emotional and mental welfare on campus. Later this semester, we’re planning to team up with HOPE and Lambda, the LGBTQ activist club, to sponsor an anti-street harassment week and address issues of rape culture and sexual harassment on the William and Mary campus.

Speaking of the future of our campus and our country, here are some of the super cool things VOX is going to do this semester:

Our main event for the spring semester is always Vagina Monologues. We donate all the proceeds from the show to the Avalon Women’s center in our area, so we’re looking forward to another successful performance and fundraising effort.

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The VOX table with all our condoms and stickers.

Of course, we’re going to continue doing Clinic Defense at a Richmond Planned Parenthood clinic and help escort people visiting the building past protestors. VOX is also hoping to organize some professor panel discussions about reproductive justice, abortion rights, and rape culture on college campuses. Those events will be open to the entire student body since we’re looking to engage a wider range of people. We will host a speaker to talk to students about sexual health and the risk of contracting STI’s, specifically HIV, and start a flier campaign to educate students about the lies and manipulation used by Crisis Pregnancy Centers to frighten women.

Overall, this is going to be an awesome, productive semester filled with feminism, fun, and the ongoing crusade for reproductive justice.