Hampshire College to hold conference addressing women’s reproductive rights

By Christiana McDougal

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Today marks the beginning of a three-day long reproductive rights conference titled: “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom” at Hampshire College. It is sponsored by both the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) and the Population and Development Program (PopDev). It is expected that over 1,000 students, activists and a variety of international leaders will attend to discuss strategies for reproductive rights while fostering progressive and accepting attitudes towards all those involved.

At the conference, speakers will discuss reproductive rights and how they are affected or influenced by social inequality, race, violence, health care reform and sexual freedom, among many others. There will also be workshops throughout the weekend which will run today from 4 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.

The conference begins this evening with “Breaking Silences: An Abortion Speak-out,” which will be a time for people who have had abortions to communicate their experiences to others.

CLPP was created in 1981 in response to the Reagan administration and the anti-abortion tide that rolled in alongside it. CLPP called attention to the sexual and reproductive injustices that many people faced, and has been doing so actively for the last 29 years by connecting students and activists to knowledge of reproductive rights and activism.

CLPP’s website states that their goals are to “inspire, educate, train and support new activists and leadership to secure reproductive freedom, justice and sexual rights for everyone.” CLPP achieves these goals through activism, internships, newsletters and annual conferences such as this weekend’s. The group puts emphasis on understanding how and why reproductive and sexual injustice can occur. Examples include lack of public knowledge about birth control, prejudice towards LGBTQI people who in turn cannot access reproductive care and can face human trafficking, poverty and domestic violence. Their overall aim is for the advancement of “reproductive freedom, justice, and sexual rights.”

PopDev’s main goal is “to change conventional thinking and policies about population growth that threaten reproductive rights, social justice and our environment,” which the group accomplishes through “research, facts, expert analysis and activist and educational publications,” according to its website. The group also aims to debunk views that claim it is solely population growth that has led to environmental degradation, unequal access to food and agriculture and overall poverty and instead emphasize the socioeconomic and political inequalities that create oppression in the first place.

CLPP’s website, www.clpp.hampshire.edu has information on classes they offer, conferences, as well as resources to get involved.. PopDev is accessible at both www.popdev.hampshire.edu and their Facebook, www.facebook.com/popdevprogram.

Christiana McDougall can be reached at [email protected]