A small line of people made their way up the walkway. Winter’s chill didn’t drive them away from getting inside. The made their journey and were determined to see it through.
As the small group walked through doors, they were greeted with a wave of pink in the Vermont State House. On Jan. 31, Castleton University’s Generation Action Club joined hundreds of people to celebrate Roe v. Wade Day and to stand with Planned Parenthood.
Generation Action is a network of student activists who are passionate about not only helping Planned Parenthood, but also informing community members what Planned Parenthood is about.
Senior Karsen Woods created the club last semester with Dani Cioffi as their final project for their Media, Political Action and Social Activism class.
Since then, Woods has continued to be president of the club and said the class project wasn’t the sole reason to start the club.
“Planned Parenthood has always been a reliable healthcare provider for me. From high school to college, Planned Parenthood has supported me at times that I wasn't able to reach my normal healthcare provider,” Woods said.
Planned Parenthood is now under legislative attack by legislators promising to cut federal funds, which account for just over 40 percent of its overall funding. Though Vermont will continue to be pro-choice, Woods learned something from her time at the state house.
“The Roe v. Wade day of action was a bittersweet experience. Everyone was welcoming and informative. There were men, women and children that seemed to be anywhere from one year to almost 100. That part of it was empowering and inspiring,” Woods said.
“What was Troubling and disheartening was the amount of Vermont State Representatives that made it very clear they did not support Planned Parenthood. Specifically in the larger dichotomy that they did not support abortion or a woman's right to choose,” she continued.
What bothers Woods the most is that many cannot consider Planned Parenthood as an essential healthcare institution because it provides the service of medical termination of pregnancy, which only constitutes 3 percent of their overall services. Woods hopes that others will become active in this strong social issue.
“I attended mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of online activism and not a whole lot of psychical activism. I wanted to do something more psychical and actually contribute to society than just be an Internet troll,” said senior Dakota Bebo with a grin.
Bebo isn’t a member of Generation Action but does believe in women’s right to choose. He also believes that Planned Parenthood provides an essential health care service that if restrictions were made, would be detrimental to both men and women. But being at the state house on Roe v. Wade Day made him genuinely happy.
“I’m proud to be a Vermonter and very proud that the majority of representatives there stood up for what was right and defended it,” Bebo said. “It made me feel like this was how democracy is supposed to work. All the people around and the local government defending what people want.”
Though he is proud that the majority representatives symbolically voted yes for Roe v. Wade, he felt like there wasn’t much of a separation of church and state when it came to those opposed. Bebo, however, believes that Vermont can be an example to those who are afraid or unsure of how to take action for Planned Parenthood, like in the South.
Taking action and not just being another murmur in a sea voices is what also made senior Ash Nelson join Generation Action and attend Roe v. Wade Day.
“I thought it would be a good chance to take action and actually stop talking about how much bullshit is going to happen and try to change something about it,” Nelson said explaining why she went to Montpelier.
Nelson knew that people would attend to voice their opinions, however she was surprised at what she saw.
“I wasn’t expecting that massive of a crowd of people to show up. It’s a good problem to have. I wasn’t expecting that many men there as I did which was really cool because part of women’s rights are men’s rights,” Nelson said.
From a workshop held at the local church, Nelson learned how to get more involved in her community to help Planned Parenthood. She learned how to properly attend a town meeting and to write letter to congress people and representatives. Nelson sees a better future only if more people get involved in making a difference like joining Generation Action.
“Who ever has the time and doesn’t know how to make their voices heard? Because that’s a huge problem I think for people a lot of people. They are upset with everything that’s going on, but they don’t know what to do about it and this is something you can do,” Nelson said.