“Celebrate Choice,” an event to commemorate the progress and rights of women, was hosted by Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood on Wednesday Sept. 15.
In the courtyard outside the Art and Interactive Multimedia (IMM) Building, students came together to rally for the pro-choice movement.
“This evening will be a night of speakers, stories, hope and positivity,” Casey Olesko, Vox president and junior sociology major, said as she greeted the group.
Seated on blankets in the grass or along the steps circling the courtyard, attendees listened while students, alumnae of the College and others shared stories, facts and personal experiences regarding women and their right to choose.
“The whole purpose of the night is to demystify abortion,” Olesko said. “We want to present a positive image of the pro-choice movement and to have a place to come and celebrate women and the choices they have today.”
The event, held in response to pro-life activities on campus, presented its opinions through the exchange of words.
“It’s not a matter of right versus wrong, but it’s about expressing what we believe in a positive way through this event,” Micaela Ensminger, junior English and secondary education major, said. “This is one of my passions. It’s all about women’s health and the right to our own heath and bodies. That’s all we’re asking for.”
Ensminger and Lauren Rittenbach, junior women’s and gender studies and economics double major, wore homemade pink t-shirts with the phrases “My body, My choice” and “I’m more than just a baby maker” written across the fabric.
Ensminger and Rittenbach further participated in the evening by joining members of Vox in reading passages from “I’m Not Sorry” (imnotsorry.net), a website where women share their abortion stories.
Chaya Himelfarb, sophomore political science major, spoke about her experience as a volunteer at the South Jersey Women’s Center in Cherry Hill.
She spent a morning escorting women from the center’s doors to their cars and protected them from an onslaught of protestors by shielding the women behind a large sign because she “believes women should have autonomy over their own bodies.”
“The group that’s come to campus tries to demonize women for their choices, based on gruesome images and spouting false truths,” Himelfarb said. “Our goal was to do a more positive event, to encourage a discourse and explain what it means to be pro-choice. The (other) group advocates being anti-choice, which doesn’t allow women to fulfill their civil liberties. It’s possible to be personally pro-life and to not force your opinions on other people.”
Donations were collected for Womanspace, a Mercer County organization that provides care and resources to victims of domestic and sexual violence, and the Justice Fund, which financially assists those who cannot afford abortion care.
Although thrown together on short notice, Olesko deemed the event a success.
“I’m really glad that we pulled this together and planned the event so quickly. The pro-choice movement is strong on campus and I’m glad everyone can make it out here and show support,” she said.