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College Democrats at IU gather for reproductive rights rally Wednesday night



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IU Democrats at IU participate in the Reproductive Rights Rally Wednesday evening. Participants rallied in Dunn Meadow to listen to speeches about reproductive rights. Xiaoan Guan Buy Photos

IU students wrapped in coats, scarves and light blue shirts printed with the phrase "You have a voice" huddled together Wednesday night in Dunn Meadow.

Some held grande Starbucks cups in one hand and blue signs with the words “Don’t Take Away My Care” in the other.

The gathering was part of a reproductive rights rally organized by College Democrats at IU to voice concerns about women’s access to reproductive health care. The event also included speakers from organizations including All Options Pregnancy Resource Center, Association of Latino Professionals for America and Middle Way House.

One of the organizers, Raegan Davis, College Democrats at IU vice president and sophomore, stood in front of the crowd, megaphone in hand. She joked about the cold weather before speaking seriously.

Sophomore Raegan Davis speaks at the Reproductive Rights Rally Wednesday evening in Dunn Meadow. Seven speakers from RAISE, Middle Way House, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and other organizations spoke at the rally. Xiaoan Guan Buy Photos

“It is a scary time to be a person with a vagina,” she said.

Terry Tossman, College Democrats at IU president and senior, said it has become even scarier for women after President Trump’s decision earlier this month to roll back a federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in health insurance plans.

“Women’s rights are under attack,” he said. “We want to stand by them.”

As Tossman stood in the back, Davis brought the megaphone back up to her mouth and said, “Which women?”

“All women,” the crowd responded in unison.

While the College Democrats at IU executive board is mostly white, Brooke O’Connor, director of outreach and IU sophomore, said they invited speakers of different races and ethnicities to provide varied perspectives.

O’Connor said it is important to give a voice to women of all races, ethnicities, sexualities, gender identities and socioeconomic classes because reproductive rights affect more than just white women.

“If you see an issue, you fight against it with everything you have, not just for women who look like you or act like you, for all women,” she said.

Among the crowd of students was Jenna Fisher, Students for Life president and IU junior. Instead of the blue “Don’t Take Away My Care” signs, she held a black sign with the words “Women deserve better than abortion” in her hands.

Junior Jenna Fisher holds a pro-life sign at the Reproductive Rights Rally. Fisher showed up to protest the rally in Dunn Meadow on Wednesday evening. “Abortion violates the right to life,” Fisher said. Xiaoan Guan Buy Photos

Each time Davis said “Which women?” Fisher chanted, “All women,” with the rest of the crowd.

Fisher said she was there to support women’s rights as well, but she said her definition of women’s rights included the rights of girls in the womb.

“What about those little girls?” she said. “What about the rights of girls who can’t speak for themselves?”

Fisher said she does not see abortion as a women’s rights issue. Instead, she sees it as a human rights issue, which is why she identifies as pro-life.

“I’m here to support the dignity and rights of all humans, even ones who haven’t been born yet,” she said.

As Fisher spoke, the crowd chanted the phrase, “Women’s rights are human rights.”

Davis said access to reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion, is a basic human right. She said reproductive issues also include maternity and paternity leave.

“Body autonomy, reproductive rights, access to reproductive health care, all of this should be a priority for both men and women,” she said.

Davis said she hopes the rally will empower women to make decisions that are right for them and to show them they deserve control of their own lives and futures in terms of reproductive health.

Tossman said he wants the rally to empower everyone frustrated by recent administrative decisions to take a stand.

“We want to show unison,” he said. “We want to show legislators that this is something we care about, that we’re tracking their votes and will hold them accountable. We care about the rights of women.”

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