BY GHADEER ALARADI, Student Life Editor
Voice for Choice is an organization whose goal is to provide education and advocacy around reproductive justice issues. The organization was formed three years ago and has been active on campus since.
Julia Cuneo, the president of Voice for Choice, noticed flyers up for anti-choice events on campus as a freshman. Her and her friends were upset from seeing flyers that were “women-shaming,” so they founded the organization, Voice for Choice.
“They often featured guilt-inducing ‘facts’ and potentially triggering accusations,” said Cuneo about the flyers. According to her, they were spreading dangerous propaganda.
Voice for Choice hosts events to celebrate bodily autonomy, raise awareness about consent and sexual assault, and is focusing on building a movement to stop the attacks on women’s health taking place in Michigan.
“We have had movie showings and panels to help people understand reproductive justice and how it impacts people’s lives,” said Cuneo. Last year, they also celebrated the Roe vs. Wade case with a dance party.
The Roe vs. Wade case in 1973 was a lawsuit involving a single pregnant woman, who challenged the abortion laws in Texas. The laws stated that it was a crime to obtain or attempt an abortion except to save the life of the mother. Roe won the Supreme Court Case. The court held that a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy.
This semester, Voice for Choice is partnering with Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Southeast Michigan to train students in running an issue campaign. The training involves identifying an issue, power mapping, strategy and other skills learned to run a campaign.
“We believe that reproductive choices are best left to the person whose body they impact,” said Cuneo.
The members of the organization work to reduce stigma about abortion, change Michigan policy so that contraception is more accessible, and allow people to live in a state where everyone has the right to choose when and how to have a child.
One of their most successful events was the Abortion Speakout. This was an event where Voice for Choice invited all people to speak about their experiences with abortion.
“People came from all walks of life to share their happy, sad, stressful, and joyous decisions about pregnancy and abortion,” said Cuneo.
“People have the intelligence and strength to make these complicated and difficult decisions for themselves,” said Cuneo. “They do not need lawmakers or religious zealots forcing them one way or another.”
Cuneo would like to tackle issues such as abortion and the intersection of identity. She stresses that there are more complex, dynamic issues other than pro-choice versus pro-life.
“Our society does not provide a safe, healthy environment for raising children, so that’s not reproductive justice either,” she said.
Cuneo named some examples of reproductive issues such as young black people getting shot, therefore tearing apart families. She also said that one out of three Native American women experience rape or sexual assault in their lifetime.
“We don’t talk about these things enough because we’re so wrapped up in fighting the ‘anti-choice’ side,” she said.
Cuneo explained that it is important to have this organization on campus, because they represent a voice of marginalized people who are often forced into silence.
“It’s incredibly important, especially in Michigan- a state steadily sinking into the abyss of conservative rancor- that people speak out for their rights,” she said.
Voice for Choice has about 10-15 active members, and their meetings are open for everyone. Their meetings are in the Student Organization Center in the University Center on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm.
If students are interested in joining, they can email Cuneo at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be added to the mailing list.
Voice for Choice is looking for new officers for next year, since many of their active members will be graduating this semester. If interested, please contact Cuneo at the email above.