Funding for New Hampshire Family Planning Programs Sparks Campus Reproductive Rights Rally
On October 8, the Planned Parenthood General Action Club (PPGA) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) held a reproductive rights rally on campus. This was in response to the New Hampshire Executive Council’s recent decision to deny an extension of funding to the New Hampshire family planning program with a reproductive rights rally on campus.
This decision resulted in funding for three reproductive health facilities: Lovering Healthcare, Equality Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNE). These three facilities provide care to approximately 80% of patients and users across the state program.
The event consisted of a series of student and local speakers addressing the facts, emotions and implications of this decision and the ongoing struggle for women’s reproductive rights. PPGA Co-Chair and Junior Civil Engineering student Izzy Mederios began by talking about women’s frustrations and the regulations that affect their bodies.
“We really want to get the word out,” Mederios explained. “A lot of people don’t know what happened or what continues to happen.”
The cries of “My Body, My Choice” were louder than the bells in T-hall as former PPGA Co-Chair Olivia Balabanis led a forceful chant to bring in participants’ voices and circulate the energy. Students also expressed their frustrations by creating posters.
Lovering Health representative Jenna Ward gave a speech on the inspiring work of the reproductive health facility and explained some of the major implications and issues regarding the recent funding. Ward pointed out that clients’ insurance often does not cover the help they may need, and that government funding is what usually allows them to receive affordable care or procedures.
Ward also detailed the many services Lovering provides in addition to abortion, including birth control methods, breast cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
“With the funding, we are able to provide affordable and accessible services,” Ward explained. “When the Executive Council funds us, it really has an impact on low-income communities. ”
Students explained why they felt the need to take a stand and noted the influence of supporting activist events. Abigail Saltmarsh, a junior environmental conservation and sustainability major, spoke about the importance of coming forward to support the causes you care about. “We can make a difference just by being an organization to support this cause,” she said.
The event ended with a hopeful speech to highlight what can be done to act more. Donating, contacting representatives, volunteering, encouraging family and friends to join events and vote are just a few suggested responses to make more voices heard and help those affected by this decision.
“It’s so easy to feel helpless and out of control in situations like this,” Medeiros said. “But there are many actions and steps that every person can take to support the fight for reproductive rights. ”