Students to End Abortion Stigma makes presence known on campus

New student organization creates space for women’s reproductive rights

Students to End Abortion Stigma makes presence known on campus

Executive board members of Students to End Abortion Stigma, Maddie Pavek, Cerys Beck, Laura Gerson, Fran Smock and Stephanie Black (not pictured are Emily Wolfe, Annabel Collinson and Jasmine Bevel).

Students to End Abortion Stigma (S2EAS), a new organization on campus founded in fall 2016, provides a space to discuss women’s reproductive rights.

School of International Service junior Becca Thimmesch organized the group.

“I originally got the idea for S2EAS while interning at a large abortion rights nonprofit,” Thimmesch said. “I had grown very frustrated with a general slowness to make abortion rights more intersectional.”

The group is “committed to fostering open and frank discussions about abortion and contraception on college campuses,” according to its mission statement.

“I knew I wanted to do something on campus, but I was hesitant at the idea of chaptering one of the big-name groups whose messaging didn't fit AU's campus,” Thimmesch said. “What we wanted was an entirely youth-led group where inclusion and intersectionality were the default, not something that constantly needed reminding.”

The group is not officially an organization on campus yet, however they are still meeting while they await approval from the Office of Campus Life.

After the presidential election, S2EAS hosted an event in November called “Where Do We Go From Here: Reproductive Rights under Trump.” This discussion took place as a way for students to learn about how they can keep fighting for reproductive rights and women’s justice with President Donald Trump in office.

The event “was a response to two of the largest concerns I was getting after the election. The first was about access and the second was mass confusion about the future of abortion access,” Thimmesch said.

S2EAS is planning on partnering with the Public Health Association for Public Health Week, April 3-9, to host a screening of the film “Trapped,” a 2016 PBS documentary by Dawn Porter that takes a look at the legislation passed in the last year to prohibit women’s abortion rights.

The groups plan to accompany the film with a panel discussion with members from National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood.

The organization is currently looking for a programming executive board member to plan more events for the future.

Steph Black, a sophomore in the School of Communication, is the director of communications for S2EAS. She works with the group out of personal interest to further the group’s message.

“We want to be able to create a space on campus for people who are talking about these issues, thinking about these issues or even people who have had abortions or have had these kinds of life experiences,” Black said.

Black said the members are “more than receptive” to helping anyone who needs help or wants to discuss any of the issues surrounding women’s reproductive rights.

The group is a strong advocate for reproductive health. She added that members of the organization have made posts about getting IUDs, talked people through the procedure and have even gone to the clinics with individuals seeking the contraceptive implant.

Additionally, they want to be the group on campus for anyone that needs a support system, Black said.

“I think that we live in a really crazy time right now and in a very tumultuous climate but there are people on this campus who do care about abortion and who do care about people who need abortion,” Black said. “We’re here for people and we hope that we can help in any way necessary.”

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