Posted by Rachel Kim
On Oct. 17 NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood and students held a pro-choice rally by the College's main Broadway entrance before the Senate debate took place at the Arthur Zankel Music Center.
NARAL Pro-Choice NY is a political advocacy organization that has worked with women's organizations, health care groups and legislators to protect reproductive rights and secure access to reproductive health care for the women of New York.
The organization works to organize communities on both a local and state level. Planned Parenthood is a not-for-profit organization and the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.
"Even to us the local elections are really key. We're basically bringing information to the people so they know the information and can make voting decisions for themselves," said alumna Emily Zahn '11, who currently works with NARAL Pro-Choice New York.
The organization, along with Planned Parenthood, gathered to support incumbent senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who supports a pro-choice position. Republican challenger Wendy Long holds a pro-life position.
"Supporters have gathered today to show their support of Planned Parenthood and will not stand for the health care of three million women, men and teens nationwide to be jeopardized," said Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York President M. Tracey Brooks.
Also present were students involved with Skidmore Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood, an organization formed to mobilize students to advocate for reproductive rights on campus. Aside from the rally, Vox has held other events to keep students politically active on campus.
"Vox and Christian Fellowship were co-sponsoring a voter pledge campaign where students come by and basically pledge to vote. Everyone knows what a big election this is, so I don't think there are many students who aren't thinking about it," said Vox President Emily Rooke-Ley '14.
The Senate debate and the rally are all signs of the recent slight increase in student political activeness on campus. Dianne Patterson, who works with Family Planning Advocates of New York State, stressed the importance of student voices.
"These young people have really never known anything but access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare without restriction. Unfortunately, we are being tested now and safe legal abortion is being challenged, and without the young generation coming up to help fight this fight again, forty years later, it would be discouraging, so we are very enthused about having young people partner up with us," Patterson said.
Students and members of the two organizations continued to rally until 7 p.m. at which point they moved to Zankel to watch the debate and support Senator Gillibrand.
"She is an incredible pro-choice champion and it is important to maintain a pro-choice Senate. With this rally we're saying to Senator Gillibrand, 'We understand this is a big deal for you, so welcome to Skidmore'," said Zahn.