University rallies students to fight for Planned Parenthood

The University of Arizona (UA) Women’s Center encourages students to fight for “reproductive justice” by joining the school’s Planned Parenthood club.

Founded by students, the VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood club is nationally recognized as an official campus action group of Planned Parenthood, and was adopted by the school’s Women’s Center not long after it was launched in 2015.

With help from the University of Arizona, VOX hosts roughly a dozen events per semester, and has about 20 active members. Its main aim is to “translate increased awareness of reproductive justice into pro-choice activism,” and promote “full-access” to abortion.

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The group is spearheaded by Sedona Lynch, a junior majoring in Public Health. In an interview with Campus Reform, Lynch explained that fighting for reproductive justice is important, especially as it allows people to decide when they want to have kids.

“People should have the access to take care of their bodies. Whether they want to have any kids, whether they want one, or none. I want people to be able to have that option to decide what they want for their own bodies, to have their own autonomy,” said Lynch.

This mission is particularly crucial on a college campus, Lynch asserted.

“Especially on a college campus, I think it's important to fight for reproductive justice because everyone here's trying to get an education. We're trying to be successful in life," she said. "Students should have the ability to make choices about their own bodies, whether it's getting birth control on campus…or Plan B.”

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Although Planned Parenthood is well-known as the leading abortion provider in the United States, VOX tries to distance itself from the topic of abortion. None of VOX’s events have mentioned it, and Lynch declined to say whether the group supports it.

Nevertheless, Lynch did reiterate her group’s support for “reproductive justice” multiple times, a term which is often considered a blanket term not just for birth control and Plan B, but abortion as well.

As VOX’s president, Lynch also highlighted that the group takes an intersectional approach, and thus often partners with other groups on campus.

“We do a lot of different work during the school year, whether it's working in solidarity with other organizations in the Tucson area like Black Lives Matter, or in solidarity with DACA students here on campus,” she added.

Since the spring semester just started, VOX doesn’t yet have any events scheduled for the upcoming months, but Lynch did note that she “definitely” has plans to host more events, including a campaign to encourage UA to expand health insurance coverage to low-income students.

[RELATED: Alumni accuse Notre Dame of betraying pro-life principles]

In a statement to Campus Reform, UA spokesperson Chris Sigurdson explained that VOX is one of 600 student clubs that receive funding from the school’s student government. This unit is funded by a mandatory 75$ fee per semester, which amounts to $600 over the course of a standard four-year degree.

He also claimed that the club doesn’t receive any taxpayer funding, but did not respond to a follow-up inquiry about the use of taxpayer funds, such as the Pell Grant, to pay for student fees.

Sigurdson did, however, praise the club for its role increasing student involvement, which he notes is helpful for students in the long-term.

“Students involved on campus tend to have better grades, retention, and graduation rates and have a better college experience overall,” he claimed. “In a recent alumni survey, our graduates said that extracurricular activities at the UA were some of the most valuable experiences they had.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen