On Oct. 8, University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Planned Parenthood General Action Club (PPGA) hosted an on-campus reproductive rights rally. This was in response to the recent decision of the New Hampshire Executive council to deny an extension of funding to New Hampshire’s Family Planning Program with an on-campus reproductive rights rally.
This decision resulted in defunding of three reproductive healthcare 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 in the entire state program.
The event consisted of a series of student and local speakers addressing facts, emotions, and implications of this decision and the ongoing fight for women’s reproductive rights. PPGA co-president and junior civil engineering student Izzy Mederios began by speaking about the frustrations of women and the regulations that affect their bodies.
“We definitely want to get the word out,” Mederios explained. “A lot of people don’t know what happened or what continues to happen.”
Shouts of “My body, my choice” were louder than the T-hall bells as former PPGA co-president Olivia Balabanis led an energetic chant to get the attendees’ voices heard and energy flowing. Students also vocalized frustrations by creating posters.
Lovering Health representative, Jenna Ward gave a speech about the inspiring work of the reproductive healthcare facility and explained some of the major implications and issues regarding the recent defunding. Ward emphasized how clients’ insurance often does not cover the help they may need, and governmental funding is what typically enables them to receive affordable care or procedures.
Ward also detailed the numerous services the Lovering provides besides abortion, including birth control methods, breast cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted disease testing.
“With the funding, we are able to provide affordable and accessible services,” Ward explained. “When it comes to the Executive Council defunding us it really impacts low income communities the most.”
Students vocalized why they felt a need to take a stand and noted the influence of supporting activism events. Junior environmental conservation and sustainability major Abigail Saltmarsh expressed the importance of showing up to support the causes you care about. “We are able to make a difference just by being a body to support this cause,” she said.
The event ended with a hopeful speech to highlight what can be done to take more action. Donating, contacting representatives, volunteering, encouraging family and friends to join at events, and voting were just a few responses suggested to make more voices heard and help those affected from this decision.
“It’s so easy to feel powerless and out of control in situations like this,” Medeiros said. “But there are many action items and steps that every single person can take to support the fight for reproductive rights.”