By: Kayla Orthman
Reproductive health laws have always been a heavily contested subject within the United States. People who are pro-choice and pro-life have both fought tooth-and-nail for their beliefs, and this debate has recently found a home at Plymouth State University. With the introduction of several anti-choice bills in Congress, a collection of clubs and organizations decided to organize a Women’s March. Taking place on Sunday, March 20th from 11AM-2PM on Mary Lyon lawn, students and community members of all types gathered to protest the following New Hampshire bills. Pulled directly from NH legislation:
HB 1477: “Prohibits a doctor from performing an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat. A doctor who violated the law would face disciplinary action.”
HB 1181: “Allows the biological father of an unborn child to petition the court for an injunction prohibiting the biological mother from having an abortion.”
HB 1625: “Repeals the protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health facilities.”
They had multiple amazing speakers from different backgrounds and organizations. For example, they had both co-founders of BLM Manchester: Erika Perez and Ronelle Tshiela, the pastor for the Unitary Church of Christ and many other amazing speakers.
One of my personal favorite parts of the speeches was the fact that they made sure to acknowledge the racist and transphobic history of the Women’s Rights Movement. I didn’t know this, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the leaders of the Women’s Suffrage movement, was perceived as incredibly racist. It is important that they spoke about this because it’s something that many people may not know about.
There were also vendors from the Student Art Collective, all selling to support small businesses run by women. Some people were selling clothes, some jewelry, and others stickers and prints. I would highly recommend following them on Instagram at @sacpsu to learn about all the various artists we have on campus. Some vendors were not from our campus, and instead were there to inform. For example, representatives from Planned Parenthood and Annie Kuster for Congress were present. They were there to support the movement as well as educate and inform the community about their causes.
As I made my way around the Women’s March, I spoke to people who gave the following answers to the simple question of “Why are you here today?” Below are just a few answers I recieved:
– To support women’s rights in New Hampshire
– Supporting friends and the movement
– Supporting female-owned businesses
Julien Davis, president of PSU Democrats and organizer of the event, shared insight how Reproductive rights are, now more than ever, in great danger. Nationally, the Supreme Court is currently reviewing Roe v. Wade, and given the 6:3 conservative-liberal split, it will be greatly weakened or outright overturned. At the state level, the New Hampshire State
Legislature has released several bills that, if passed, will virtually eradicate the right to choose in the Granite State. All of this is taking place during a global pandemic and economic depression, a time when family planning is crucial for so many women and people who can get pregnant.
“The 2022 Midterm elections are coming up fast, which means we need to get moving on mobilizing the public. This is why I pushed for a Women’s March on Plymouth, to get students and town members thinking about what’s at stake, and what they can do to help ensure the availability of reproductive services.”
When it comes to issues like this, it’s easy to feel helpless. But students can do so much more, whether it’s getting out to a Women’s March to show support or voting. Even attending the clubs that put it together: PSU Dems, She’s the First, Student Art Collective, the New Hampshire Youth Movement: Plymouth Hub, the Black Student Union, and Girls Not Acting Right. Now more than ever, support from the community is needed to keep all those who need reproductive services safe.