Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Advocates for Choice weigh in on reproductive rights

Locally and nationally, women’s reproductive rights have been in the spotlight recently. Here on campus, Advocates for Choice, or A4C, a student organization, exists to advocate for those rights. It aims to educate students about reproductive health and rights, to increase pro-choice activism on campus and to serve as a partner to state, national and international reproductive rights efforts. In an interview with The Badger Herald, Grace Colas, co-chair of A4C, shared some of the organizations thoughts on recent reproductive politics.

BH: First, can you tell me a little about the organization?

A4C: We (Advocates for Choice) are the student organization of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin,
which is the public policy branch of Planned Parenthood. We act as the middle ground
between public policy and reproductive rights issues that go on at the Capitol and [University of Wisconsin]
students. We try to take the things that are going on in public policy and reproductive
rights and translate them to make them more understandable to students, because we
found that a lot of students either aren’t sure how those issues affect them directly or
don’t know how to get involved. Right now our main focus is on outreach and making
sure we’re a visible, active presence on campus. We do a lot of tabling; we hold tables
at both unions, and April is going to be Get Tested Month, so we’ll be doing that whole
campaign. As well, we’ll be at bigger events like All Campus Party and Wear Red Get
. We also collaborate with other sexual health organizations like PAVE and Sex Out
once in a while. We do a lot of stuff on Facebook as well.


BH: There’s a lot of legislation going on right now that would be in your area of interest.
The first one is Bill 306 to revise abortion laws. How does your organization feel about

A4C: I’ve been interning in the Capitol, so I’ve been to a couple hearings for that. I think
the main issue is that there are a lot of things it doesn’t specify. For example, it doesn’t
specify how long a woman would be required to be alone in a room with a doctor. It
doesn’t require what that doctor is going to say to that woman. It doesn’t thoroughly
address, for example, a woman who’s become pregnant as a result of a rape. She may
know she wants an abortion but is not emotionally comfortable with her support system – her mother, her boyfriend, whoever she brings with her – to that appointment leaving
the room. I remember Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, gave an interesting example
during public testimony. She said she had a high-risk pregnancy and they had to
consider an abortion. She mentioned if someone had told her in an already emotionally
difficult situation that she was not allowed to have her husband with her, it would be
inhumane. The bill also sets a dangerous precedent of interfering in the doctor-patient
relationship. It inserts the law in a sacred, private space between a woman and her
doctor. We already have informed consent laws in Wisconsin that cover what this bill is
trying to do, which is to make sure no woman is coerced into having an abortion. This is
a case of the legislature interfering in a woman’s personal and private health decisions
with her doctor.

BH: Another thing I want to discuss is Obama’s push to have health care providers
cover birth control. Several Republicans have come out in opposition, including
Wisconsin’s own Tommy Thompson. What’s your perspective on that?

A4C: I don’t know that we’ve taken an official position on Tommy Thompson, so I
can’t speak to him, specifically. What I can tell you is that we are in full support of
contraceptive coverage being paid by insurance companies. It really is basic healthcare.
Women use birth control for a whole variety of reasons. It’s not just for preventing
pregnancy. It’s for managing conditions like ovarian cysts or menstrual bleeding
or painful periods. It’s basic healthcare. I’ve heard the argument before that if it’s
not covered under your healthcare, work somewhere else. Pay for it yourself. Find
somewhere to get it. This obviously doesn’t take into account that for many American
women, finding another job or just paying for it is not an option. It should be available to
all women regardless of how much they make or where they work, whether they’re part
of a religious institution or not.

BH: Finally, we’ve seen Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, among others, who have
taken a hardline on reproductive rights. What’s your position there?

A4C: From the conservative religious right we’re seeing a lot of no-holds-barred attacks
on things that have been, for a very long time, a basic part of women’s healthcare.
Planned Parenthood has successfully lobbied with members of both parties. We’re
not aligned with any particular party and we’ve made compromises with Republican
candidates before. Now, we’re seeing a new trend of going after women’s health
services. It’s unfortunate that we have to generalize and we’re seeing this from a very
extreme portion of the GOP, but it just happens to be coming from the conservative religious standpoint. The trend right now seems to be going after women’s health, which
is so far off track. Why should it be different from men’s health? Men’s healthcare has
never been under attack like this, ever. It’s frustrating not only because it’s infringing
on rights we believe all women should have, but going after birth control is not going to
create jobs. We keep asking the Republican leadership, “How are we going to create
jobs”? and in response, they go after women’s health. It’s a really big disconnect
between what needs to get done and what’s being focused on.

For more information on Advocates for Choice, send an email to
[email protected] or join the Facebook page, UW-Madison Advocates for
Choice. You can also visit for information on Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

Badger Herald interview conducted by Taylor Nye.

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