Disclaimer = My base understanding on Women’s Health Issues – I’m not sure
Yesterday Evening, Festival was the place to be. ‘Cause it was packed. Stand With Women or Stand in the Way was an event planned three and a half weeks in advance by the class SOWK288 that welcomed “JMU and Harrisonburg community for a public forum on women’s issues.” Seating had been arranged into mini discussion groupings, with 13 chairs. There was a table of refreshments, a table with information about NARAL, and a table with a banner-sized piece of paper for people to write on.
On each there was a blank sticker name tag and a small piece of paper with several statistics on varying topics, but mostly related to women’s health. You were encouraged to not only write your name on the sticker but also your preferred pronouns, which I thought was pretty cool and a “Well, Duh!” moment.
At 7:00 PM, we were welcomed and introduced to the guest speaker, Sarah Hogg. Hogg graduated JMU as of this past May with a Major in Anthropology and a Minor in Women & Gender Studies. She is currently working as the Advocacy and Organizing Manager of NARAL in the North Carolina Branch. She opened by stating that Clinic Violence is Domestic Terrorism. I felt like that completely needed to be addressed in light of the tragedy at a Planned Parenting Clinic. The part that I liked the most was learning about the differences between Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, and Reproductive Justice organizations. For one thing, Reproductive Justice has it’s roots in Women of Color. They work to support the health needs for Women of Color that are often ignored by the mainstream organizations.
It was also interesting to learn about the Anti-Choice Laws in action – Waiting Periods. The waiting period of a woman in need of an abortion could vary from 24 – 72 hours, depending on the state in which you live. This seeks to shame the access of abortion care and doctors are required to read “Informed Consent Laws” which contains more inaccuracies than truths. These waiting periods also marginalize people from accessing this health care because of the issue of money, transport, or lodging.
After the guest speaker, there was time for discussion among the groupings of chairs. At each grouping, a facilitator, a student in the SOWK288 class, was present with a paper full of lead-in questions. Although the group I was in was a bit shy in the beginning, we all started to pour in responses to different topics and questions. I found it particularly interesting to discuss about issues on college campuses.
After the Group Discussion, there were closing remarks and the closing curtains clocked in at 8:10 PM. This event was very informational for me and it was so beneficial to understand and have resources to explore. Although the first half of the event consisted more of one topic, it was cool to bring it back into the discussion groups and then expand from there. I heard there’s going to be one next year as well, so maybe I’ll see you there?