At this moment in time when citizens of the United States have polarizing opinions on the topic of reproductive rights, a group of UConn students decided to bring back a once-disbanded club named Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ).
According to Carly Martin, an eighth-semester secondary English education major and president of the club, SURJ’s objective is to “advocate for the rights to affordable [and] accessible birth control, maternal care, family planning options, safe [and] legal abortions and healthcare...to all people.”
The organization hopes to build a safe space and become a resource for students seeking reliable information or advice on the topic of safe sex, contraception and family planning. SURJ plans to get involved on campus by providing screenings of documentaries and films surrounding the topics of reproductive rights. The group wants to raise awareness about organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the role they play in women’s healthcare while bringing in representatives to discuss their experiences and work.
“Planned Parenthood is often demonized, labeled as just an abortion clinic, but it is an organization that does so much more than just that,” Martin said. “They help through the maternal process, providing ultrasounds and care to pregnant women, as well as help family planning, giving cancer screenings and overall providing safe and affordable health care.”
In response to various issues on the topics of abortion, healthcare, contraception and the misconceptions surrounding them, SURJ was started in order to discuss reproductive justice and advocate for it. Martin emphasized the fact that the group is pro-choice and believes it is important to talk about topics related to women’s healthcare in an intersectional manner.
“Gender, sexual orientation, race, ability, socioeconomic status...all these parts of an individual's identity play a role in a person’s right to bodily autonomy,” Martin said.
Martin said some issues, such as those concerning how pregnant women are treated throughout their pregnancy by healthcare professionals based upon identity, is something the group wants to explore and discuss solutions for. This, along with the importance of safe and affordable abortions, is an important subject of conversation for SURJ.
According to Martin, typical meetings should include “open discussions, reflections on current events surrounding women’s health and reproductive rights for all people and working on ways to advocate for what we believe in, which is the right to choose what to do with your body and have access to resources to do so.”
While SURJ is still working on establishing and organizing itself, Martin said they are hoping to begin operations by next semester, if not sooner. For anyone interested in joining or with questions, SURJ can be reached at SURJ.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.