Imagine being a student in a crisis pregnancy situation and wanting to take advantage of the free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds that are provided on campus. You go to the Mobile Care pregnancy van hoping to find help but upon arriving at the van you see a group of protesters surrounding it, yelling at students and telling you that the van is deceptive. You are told vague information by them and feel uncomfortable going to talk to the students volunteering at the van in order to decide for yourself what you think.
Every week, student organizations on campus lead different protests and sit-ins for serious and noble causes such as climate change or racism. But of all the things to protest, why would you spend an afternoon protesting something that offers free health services to students? This is such a needed and important resource on campus, so why would a handful of students protest it, you ask? Protesters wildly claim that the people running the van, The Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut, deceive women and prevent them from having a choice. These concerns are false, and in fact, the protesters themselves are doing just that.
So why do protesters think that the van is evil? In an article last week, Ellie Lott told a Daily Campus reporter that “there are stories about how sometimes they’ll delay appointments and force women past the pregnancy cutoff.” The protesters repeat the same, vague claims, but I am concerned that protesters are misrepresenting how clients of the crisis pregnancy van really feel and are therefore misleading the public into thinking that the van is harmful. There have been no stories of people being mistreated by the pregnancy van employees on campus. If you have been, please do not feel like I am invalidating your experience, I am merely saying that there is no evidence to suggest the pregnancy van is anything but beneficial to its clients. Ellie Loff goes on to say that “seeing their van on campus is very deceiving” and “they are not going to help you.” I don’t understand why the protesters think that the van is deceptive. The Mobile Care pregnancy van says in very clear letters “Free Pregnancy Tests and Ultrasounds,” and women who are interested are provided with just that. Clearly, many of these claims are rumors, so why would protesters be so adamant about spreading them? Protesters disagree with the values of The Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut and the student organization that works with them and are thus politicizing this issue and pushing their own agenda in order to get their way and “win.” But this issue is not one of politics. It’s about caring for and loving all people.
But beyond that, the van is desperately needed. The bottom line is there is a void in women’s healthcare at UConn. Providing free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds is an attempt to begin to fill that void. If you don’t like that, you have the right to say so and to protest that. But what are you offering women instead? Resources for UConn women are shockingly sparse. Instead of protesting every month, why don’t we try to tackle the real issues preventing women from making the choice they truly want, such as a deficit in on-campus resources, no maternal on-campus housing and little-to-no childcare options.
I truly believe that the van is a step in the right direction. I have had the pleasure of meeting the nurse and other employees as well as the students who organize this resource, and I know that they are passionate about expanding care for women at UConn and are loving to all people no matter their circumstances. Again, if it is the case that you have had a bad experience in the van or with The Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut’s employees, your experience is certainly valid and I’m not trying to discount it. Please feel free to be open to someone about what you have gone through because sharing the truth is very important and our goal as a community is to care for and listen to one another.
I think women in need are able to decide for themselves what they want. If someone tries to approach the pregnancy van, they will be intimidated and discouraged from seeking help by protesters who will tell them how they should feel about the van. I think that shoving fliers in their faces and intimidating others blatantly perpetuates misogyny by making women feel like they are weak, and that people think they are easily manipulable. The protesters are basically telling students what they should think and feel about the van without allowing anyone to find out for themselves.
Despite standing in front of the van for hours each month, not a single protester has been willing to engage in conversation with the nurse or the students volunteering to help. They’ve put themselves in an echo chamber of fake news and spread these rumors to anyone who dares be curious about the van. So, let’s talk. I want to hear more about what you think, why you think it, your experiences and the ways that our community could help students in pregnancy crisis situations feel more loved and cared for at UConn.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.
Cade Buckheit is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org