Sophomore English major and gender and women’s studies minor Katie Lindsey (left) and junior legal studies major Karyn Witzel (right) work on their coloring pages during the Generation Action Color and Chat event on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. (Photos by Alena Hines)
Planned Parenthood chapter raises reproductive health awareness
Editor’s Note: Lauryn Goodson is a current web illustrator for the WKU Talisman but was not involved in the production of this story.
A new campus group has formed that is focused on reproductive health. The WKU chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s main focus is to raise awareness about reproductive health and promote freedom for all individuals, according to their Instagram page.
Smiths Grove sophomore Katie Lindsey is the vice president of the campus chapter.
“Our goals are to raise awareness about reproductive health and rights, educate people about sexual health and make campus an overall better and safer place all while having fun,” Lindsey said.
According to Lindsey, chapter president Lauryn Goodson helped to organize a Women’s Rights Campaign this past summer after the overturn of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
The case of Roe v. Wade largely influenced the creation of this organization, according to Lindsey. She said it encouraged a lot of members to want to fight for reproductive rights in the community.
According to Oyez, the ruling of Roe v. Wade left the legality of abortion up to the states, rather than the federal government, which prompted many of them to nearly or totally ban it.
Lindsey said that the ruling of Roe v. Wade sparked a drive in a lot of people to want to do more for the community and fight for reproductive rights.
“I think a lot of people felt violated and knew that our generation is the ones that will be most affected by this attack on reproductive rights and health care, so there was a movement to get more young people involved in the fight and to get Gen Z out and voting,” Lindsey said.
One way people can get involved is through participating in WKY Legislative Day of Action, where they can speak with legislators via Zoom, Lindsey said.
In this Zoom conference, participants will learn about how to protect access to birth control and other sexual and reproductive health subjects.
Some group members have participated in an event like this in the past as well, Dawn Hall said. She is an English, film and gender and women’s studies professor who serves as the chapter’s official faculty advisor.
Hall said that last spring many WKU students attended a reproductive freedom panel called “Get Educated” through Zoom, which was held to raise awareness in students of what was happening in the state concerning reproductive rights.
In the meeting, former Kentucky state representative Attica Scott and Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Alex Acquisto discussed the current legal and political situation surrounding reproductive freedoms and women’s health care in Kentucky, Hall said.
The lack of women’s health care was also discussed, as well as the possibility that new laws may eradicate limited health care options away from Kentuckians, Hall said.
Hall said that the students’ participation in the meeting inspired the establishment of the WKU chapter of the Gen Action organization.
“We all walked away really concerned about reproductive freedom and even more passionate about advocating for reproductive rights,” Hall said.
Not only is this social organization available at WKU, but there are also over 350 groups like this all over the nation, according to Planned Parenthood.
“Interested students had several meetings with the national coordinator which gives us tips on how to make our organization stronger,” Hall said.
Hall said she feels a sense of pride to be able to advise the chapter
“While this group is student-initiated, I try to be as supportive as possible. I am very honored to have been asked to be the faculty advisor for our campus chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action,” Hall said.
Charlotte Goddard is the community organizer for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates; she helps advise and mentor the executive committee of the chapter.
As a community organizer, Goddard said she takes on the role of a mentor. She has helped to cultivate leadership on campus.
“The executive committee is the same structure many organizations use. They are the governing body of the organizations,” Goddard said. “WKU Gen Action leadership creates programming, educates voters, register voters and activates members to take direct actions.”
Goddard said that there have been many attacks on sexual and reproductive rights the past several years.
“Many of the attacks directly impact the bodily autonomy of young college-age adults,” Goddard said.
Due to these attacks, Gen Action wanted to help educate students about voting and impactful legislation, Goddard said. While the students don’t create legislation, they do help shape legislation during the legislative process.
Goddard said members are involved in legislation by interacting with their legislators in meetings, testifying during committee hearings, composing emails, calling legislators to support or oppose legislation and sharing their own stories.
“By advocating, Gen Action worked to help defeat constitutional amendment two on the ballot last year and are working hard to help maintain the rights of the LGBTQ+ community following a flurry of anti-trans legislation this session,” Goddard said.
Goddard said Gen Action often works as allies with Pride Centers and other LGBTQ+ organization to amplify their voices and promote voter participation.
“Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapters across the Commonwealth are working in conjunction with Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Kentucky, the Fairness Campaign, and the ACLU-KY to help beat back some of the dozen anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans bills,” Goddard said.
Goddard said that Planned Parenthood Generation Action is a safe place on campus for students of all backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities to come together.
The organization gives students a chance to meet others who have similar experiences and views to engage with what is happening in the state and on WKU’s campus when it comes to reproductive rights, Goddard said.
“Planned Parenthood Generation Action is harnessing the power, energy and enthusiasm of young people to fight for reproductive freedom and justice for all,” Goddard said.