Voices for Choice working for reproductive rights

The student group Voices for Choice, or Vox, held its first meeting of the year Wednesday with hopes of increasing group membership as well as awareness surrounding reproductive health rights at Portland State University.

Vox works closely with a field organizer from Planned Parenthood to plan events and educate students attending PSU.

Vox, Latin for “voice,” was started on campus last year by one of the group’s co-directors, Alisha Moadab. While it is a pro-choice student group, Moadab stressed that many people have been misinformed about what, exactly, “being pro-choice” entails.

“Pro-choice is pro-option,” she said. “It’s supporting access to all reproductive options and supporting individuals to choose how and when they’re going to have children.”

Missy Stoner, co-director of Vox, explained that many people aren’t aware that they can be pro-choice, yet still believe abortion to be wrong. Being pro-choice involves remaining open to others having their own values and beliefs, and respecting what they feel is right for them, she said.

Both Moadab and Stoner feel that due to the Republican dominated congress and anti-choice leanings of the Bush administration, reproductive health rights are currently at risk in the United States.

“I’m motivated because Bush is in the White House,” Moadab said. “I don’t want to go back to a time where women die from back-alley abortions.”

Stoner is also concerned, and feels that her personal rights are at risk.

“I think that we’re facing a huge threat,” she said. “As a woman, I should have the same rights as a man, and no man is going to tell me that I can’t choose.”

Currently, there are five anti-choice bills being heard in the Oregon House of Representatives Rules and Public Affairs Committee. With issues ranging from a 24-hour waiting period before abortions to new fees and regulations for the clinics, the bills will limit options available for women, Moadab said.

Members of Vox intend to educate students at PSU about such issues and are hopeful that doing so will create change.

“We’re creating awareness,” she said. “We want to make it a real issue to students and inspire them to know it’s an important cause.”

Activities sponsored by Vox last year included lectures on World AIDS Day by doctors and AIDS victims; providing a “kissing” booth at last year’s production of “Vagina Monologues,” where members handed out chocolate kisses and condoms; and taking part in Take Back the Night, a march protesting violence against women.

Moadab hopes to hold more events before the 2003 school year is over. The next activity Vox is participating in will be a student lobby day in Salem, where participants will attend a training workshop in the morning, then talk to representatives in the afternoon about reproductive health issues.

Other events currently being planned include an activity on May 7, the national day to prevent teen pregnancy, as well as its next meeting, which is scheduled for April.

Both directors of Vox hope to see a growing membership in the months to come, and encourage students to come to meetings no matter what their background.

“We’re looking for people with different viewpoints,” Moadab said. Issues regarding reproductive health rights are pertinent issues for every student at PSU, she added.

“The future is reliant on the children of tomorrow,” she said. “If kids are having kids, that won’t do much to benefit society.”

For more information regarding how to get involved with the PSU chapter of Vox, e-mail [email protected]