On Wednesday, Oct. 12th, Aanya Mehta, multicultural and diversity senator of the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government and u
Undergraduate Title IX advocacy coordinator, led the Reproductive Rights Town Hall. The event began with a panelist discussion featuring community leaders and was followed by a Q&A session where the audience could submit their questions for the panelists to answer.
The panelists from UConn Health, Student Health and Wellness and the Women’s Center began by explaining the resources that their organizations provide. Dr. Cara Delaney, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UConn, spoke about the reproductive resources available through UConn Health. These services include contraception, abortion care, medication and surgical abortion, pregnancy care and more.
Kathleen Holgerson, director of the Women’s Center, explained that, unlike UConn Health, the Women’s Center does not provide direct abortion services; however, it is a location where students can obtain free period products, safer sex supplies and most importantly, information regarding the different options that are offered and tailored to your specific needs.
Suzanne Onorato, director of Student Health and Wellness, detailed the array of resources offered, including sexually transmitted screenings, abortion care, sexual assault resources, emergency contraception protection and education about sexual health. In addition, she said Glovebox is a resource where you can order safer sex resources online for no cost and they will be delivered to your mailbox on campus.
The panelists articulated how most of these resources are included in a student’s fee bill, with the exception of certain medical services which require insurance that can be obtained through the university.
“We are committed to the health of our students so calling us is never a wrong choice,” Ellyssa Eror, medical director of Student Health and Wellness, said.
“THERE IS a lot of confusion about what is happening nationally and how that relates to the state of connecticut and what the law allows. we want to provide resources and inform people about the laws and accessible sources.”Suzanne Onorato
The conversation shifted into how currently reproductive rights are at the forefront of political debate and how the Supreme Court decision over the summer outlawing Roe v. Wade affects access to reproductive resources in Connecticut and across the country.
“There is a lot of confusion about what is happening nationally and how that relates to the state of Connecticut and what the law allows,” Onorato said. “We want to provide resources and inform people about the laws and accessible sources.”
Mae Flexer, Connecticut state senator, was also in attendance and emphasized how in Connecticut, “we have one of the strongest abortion rights laws in the country; however, due to the change at the federal level, people can’t be comfortable because their rights can be taken away. Now, we only have one law in place protecting us and not the double protection coming from the federal level like we used to.”
Holgerson expressed the need to find ways to help not only members of our community, but also people from all over the country.
“We all know someone who doesn’t live in the state of Connecticut, and we need to work on what we can do to bring communities across the country and across the world together over these issues,” Holgerson said.
As the conversation continued, the panelists explained how UConn students can make a difference in the fight for reproductive justice.
“Using your voice and collective action and organizations like Planned Parenthood that are doing the work and putting your support behind the organizations,” Holgerson said.
Delaney said there are other ways to make a difference too, such as attending events and activities happening on campus throughout the year.
“Avenues like this town hall are really important, and we really want to make that when we are creating new resources. We want your opinions and hear from all of you about the ways we can best support you,” Delaney said.
The leaders encouraged students to get involved and make their voices heard in any way they can and know that they can always reach out for support.
“As students, you guys are in the optimal position to do something, do something to protect people, because it will be a very different world if some of these things happen,” Dr. Molly Brewer, gynecologic oncologist at UConn Health said. “Those at UConn Health really want to hear from the students and how we can help and what you all need.”
In conclusion, the panelists emphasized taking advantage of the resources that the different organizations around campus have and using their voices to create reproductive justice despite growing divisions that make reproductive resources harder to obtain.