By Sonja Hansen
On Oct. 10, Planned Parenthood publicly launched a campaign to protect access to abortion in light of the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
On campus, that campaign begins closer to home with Stanford’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, established last winter by co-presidents Jillian Rogers ’20 and Sofia Dudas ’20.
“There’s been already a big spike in [Planned Parenthood’s] presence and activism because it’s so important right now,” Rogers said. “Reproductive healthcare is at stake.”
Generation Action is a network of chapters across 300 colleges nationwide that aims to raise awareness of and connect students to health services provided by Planned Parenthood. Stanford’s chapter, established in collaboration with Planned Parenthood’s Mar Monte location, consists of 15 executive board members who lead three branches: education, health services and advocacy.
The education branch plans to introduce students to Planned Parenthood’s services, while health services will help students connect with local Planned Parenthood locations to receive assistance from birth control to general health screenings. The advocacy branch plans to spread awareness of the goals of and risks to Planned Parenthood through phone banks and letters to senators.
“[Planned Parenthood] is not as much at risk in California as in most states, but it’s also easy to be naive and not recognize that clinics are being shut down, defunded and protested against in a vast part of the country,” Rogers said. “We have locations all over California that are well funded, but it’s really important to pay attention to the social and political changes taking place that relate to reproductive healthcare, which can vary widely among states.”
The chapter plans to work with the Stanford Sexual Health Peer Resource Center (SHPRC) and the Women’s Community Center (WCC). According to Rogers, the WCC has allowed the chapter to use their community center space.
Other items on Generation Action’s agenda include inviting speakers who have advocated for or worked at Planned Parenthood, hosting a feminist patching party — where attendees can add feminist-themed patches to clothes — and tabling in White Plaza to educate the community about false stereotypes and stigmas. Rogers said that the club expects to offer activities during cancer-prevention month in February, get-yourself-tested month in April and other themed months.
Overall, Rogers said that the club’s goal this year is to establish itself on campus and push for inclusion.
“We have men on our executive board, and I believe our board is widely representative of the diversity at Stanford, which I think is awesome because it’s important to involve lots of perspectives in order to effect lasting change,” Rogers said.
Rogers cited anti-Planned Parenthood tables in White Plaza as motivation to co-found the chapter.
“Last year I would see people tabling in White Plaza that said ‘Defund Planned Parenthood,’ and that motivates me to destigmatize abortion, reproductive healthcare and Planned Parenthood,” Rogers said. “A lot of people don’t know what’s going on with the reproductive justice movement nationally. While difficult, it is important to engage in conversation with people who disagree on fundamental beliefs to understand the opposing perspective.”
Stanford is also home to the organization Stanford Students for Life, which, according to its website, aims to advocate for pro-life causes and “to defend the basic human rights of the unborn.”
According to member Carolyn Manion ’19, Stanford Students for Life focuses more on enabling its members to volunteer, aid in-need families and attend events such as the Walk For Life in San Francisco. However, she believes that the organization would be interested in co-hosting events with Planned Parenthood.
“I feel like the point of having a student group on such a hot-button issue is to foster a community where you can discuss different sides of an issue,” Manion said.
Contact Sonja Hansen at smhansen ‘at’ stanford.edu.