Student groups celebrate women’s right to choose

University Pro-Choice Coalition offers all students a place to voice opinion.

Amber Schadewald

The music was loud and the message was clear at the second annual “Rock for Roe” concert, honoring the importance of women’s reproductive rights.

A sign on the wall next to the stage at Triple Rock Social Club on Monday summed up the message of the show: “Seventy-seven percent of anti-abortion leaders are men, 100 percent of them will never get pregnant.”

The concert celebrated the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that overturned all state and federal laws restricting abortion.

Tina Schlieske, Spider Fighter and Dessa of Doomtree, among other local favorites, performed for a politically conscious crowd, raising money for the MN Choice Coalition, a group of eight nonprofit organizations dedicated to reproductive rights.

Where to go
What: Free screening of ‘The Abortion Diaries’ and ‘Speak Out: I Had An Abortion’ hosted by UPCC and WSAC
When: 5:30 p.m. today
Where: Coffman Union Theater

Sally Hassell, Planned Parenthood grassroots organizer, said the concert is a way of reaching out to a younger generation who never knew what it was like to not have legal abortions available.

Planned Parenthood was among the organizations at the show offering pens, stickers and piles of information to concert-goers. Hassell said she loves watching people read the not-so- pleasant statistics about the state of reproductive rights – their faces showing an expression of disbelief.

“It’s like a light bulb goes on over their head,” she said. “It’s fun to know you’ve inspired them.”

University students from the Women’s Student Activist Collective and University Pro-Choice Coalition also tabled at the event.

Emily Burt, UPCC financial chairwoman, said the concert is a great way to celebrate women’s reproductive freedom, while also reminding people that the fight isn’t over.

“Abortion is legal now, but it may not always be that way,” Hassell said.

UPCC is also screening two documentaries tonight in celebration of Roe v. Wade. The movies tell stories of women who had abortions.

Art history junior Caitlin LaFlash said the movies are intended to help the group “break the taboo” on talking about abortion, allowing people to ask questions and understand the procedure’s effect on women’s lives.

UPCC as an educator

Prior to fall 2006, the University had three pro-choice student groups, but only for students in very specific fields – nursing, law and medical.

Noticing the need for an overall, and more encompassing pro-choice group on campus, LaFlash said she decided to create UPCC.

According to LaFlash, the group’s mission statement is to educate and raise awareness of pro-choice issues, safe-sex practices, pregnancy options, birth control and contraceptives and pro-choice legislation.

Sex might be new to many college students, she said, and they may still be unaware of their birth control options because they were given abstinence-only sexual education in high school.

“We strive to make students aware so they can make their own decisions about their own reproduction health,” she said.

The group’s kick-off event, “Cookie and a Condom,” was held during fall semester. Members handed out free safe sex kits and homemade cookies.

“College students just ate it up,” LaFlash said.

UPCC also sponsored a sex education panel discussion during the fall and has a fundraising event planned at the Kitty Kat Club in early February.

LaFlash said the response both on campus and in the pro-choice community has been positive and her only complaint about the group is the lack of male members.

UPCC has about 25 members, only four of which are male.

Jim Forrey, an individually designed interdepartmental junior and UPCC member, said people often question his involvement in the group.

“It takes two to tango,” he said.

When a woman gets pregnant, the man also has legal and moral responsibilities for that child, he said.

The pro-choice movement has been historically framed as a women’s movement, leaving men feeling like they have no role to fill.

But marketing senior Mike Jackson said men have the choice in a relationship to be against abortions.

Although he said he thinks his anti-abortion views are a minority on campus, it’s still important to have those opinions heard.

“I just think (abortion) is unethical,” he said. “It’s still murder, no matter how you look at it.”

Emily Kaiser contributed to this report.