Ask Adelle: The Women’s March and you


Adelle ZocherSpecial to the Southern News

In the wake of the Women’s Marches taking place across the country and around the world, I would like to use this week’s column to give you some information about the movement (the largest protest in American history, with around 2.8 million Americans taking part) what is being fought for, and how it relates to you, and your reproductive and sexual health.

The Women’s March on Washington is a response to Donald Trump’s election and recent inauguration as President of the United States, and subsequent actions that threaten equal rights for Americans. The protests are a peaceful demonstration of opposition to racism, homophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, discrimination and hatred.

Feminism is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” as well as “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” However you define your gender, you can, and perhaps already do consider yourself a feminist if you believe that all people are equal, and deserve equal opportunity and rights. Being a feminist means that you believe in EQUALITY.

Among his first acts as President, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare.” It is a very common misconception that they are two different entities, so I will reiterate that they are one in the same. Here are some important facts about the ACA, and how it affects reproductive health services that are currently available to you:

The ACA has allowed access to reproductive health services for 55 million women and saved about $1.4 billion in out of pocket costs. The repeal of the ACA, and the defunding of organizations such as Planned Parenthood would drastically affect access to vital services, which some of you may have been able to utilize under the ACA.

Planned Parenthood has long been providing a variety of reproductive services, birth control, screenings, STD testing and treatment as well as primary care, only 3 percent of which are abortion services.

Under the Title X family planning program, Planned Parenthood receives zero federal funding for abortion services. Gentlemen, Planned Parenthood also provides sexual and primary care services for you, and defunding and dismantling it would mean your health may suffer if you use the services they provide.

The current Republican agenda to eliminate Planned Parenthood threatens to prevent an estimated 2.5 million Americans from receiving the care they need. (References from CNN.com, read more here. You can also visit Planned Parenthood’s website to learn more.)

The Affordable Care act allows adult children to remain covered under their parent’s insurance until age 26. Many of you likely benefit from this provision, and some are expressing concern that it will be removed. Thankfully, there is broad bipartisan support to retain the provision, and President Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he “very much likes” the provision, a good sign for the future of the ACA. (for more information, USA Today College covers the topic in this comprehensive article.)

The SCSU Wellness Center offers free condoms (latex and non-latex), female condoms and dental dams–all free of charge. You can order protective products through Condom Owl, which packages and delivers free products straight to your residence Hall, or for pickup by commuters.

Granoff Hall Health Services offers free, confidential STD testing, HIV Pre-exposure Prophylactics and soon to come, Gardasil HPV vaccinations for both men and women, as well as intrauterine devices for women. Feel free to stop by the Wellness Office, or Health Services for more information, and of course I am here for any questions as well.

Repeal of the ACA, and subsequently government funded reproductive health services could affect our access to HIV services, contraceptives, and sexual education.

Critics of the Women’s March say that it is divisive, yet the aim of the marches, rallies, and the movement itself is to unite people in the fight for equal, inalienable rights for all.

Violent, hateful protests give a bad name to any cause. There has been controversy about the media’s portrayal of both sides. Any individual or group that uses hate speech and violence to convey their point will be ineffective. There are non-peaceful protests on both sides, but this is not representative of their community as a whole.

Highlighting the acts of the few takes away from the message of the majority– which in the case of the Women’s March is a non-violent exercise in freedom of speech,  petitioning a government  body that threatens the liberty of its citizens, particularly those of women and their reproductive rights.

Women’s rights are human rights. I respect the right that all people reserve to hold their own opinions and make choices about their bodies. There is never a place for any individual to force their personal beliefs on others. Your body is your own, and no one has the right to impede you in getting the proper care you need and deserve.

We are witnessing history in the making. The years 2016 to 2017 are a major turning point in American history, and it is my hope (and likely yours,) that our government will succeed, and our country will come together, not become more divided. We hope for an America of equal opportunity and rights, and a government that protects liberty and justice for ALL.

Part of the SCSU mission states that, “as an intentionally diverse and comprehensive university, Southern is committed to academic excellence, access, social justice, and service for the public good.” As students at Southern, it is our obligation to serve one another, and to foster a safe environment to learn and grow. Showing support for the Women’s March is an excellent means for expressing support for your community member fearing marginalization in light of recent events.

While the opinions expressed here are my own, the Wellness Center and SCSU support inclusion, equality and justice in both health and all other realms of your life as a student. As always, our university, and the Wellness Center welcome and extend ourselves and our services to individuals from all walks of life, and of all opinions and beliefs.

If you wish to get involved in the Women’s March and Women’s Rights Movements, you can find more information here. You can participate in their new campaign, ‘Ten Actions for the First 100 Days’, where you can sign up to be informed and get involved in 10 actions that will take place over the 100 days following the inauguration.

You can also visit sites like change.org, which offer thousands of petitions you can sign online.

Readers, stay tuned for information about Women’s March events happening here at Southern, and as always, myself and the Wellness Center are here anytime you need!

Photo Credit: Mary Rudzis

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