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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

Student organization hosts reproductive justice convention

Reproductive+health+products+are+displayed+on+a+table+for+the+Pittsburgh+Reproductive+Justice+convention.
Alex Jurkuta | Staff Photographer
Reproductive health products are displayed on a table for the Pittsburgh Reproductive Justice convention.

As access to reproductive health care grows uncertain across the country, Pitt students are gathering together and sharing resources across campus. Alex Nieves, a senior English literature major, feels “great” knowing that there is a community advocating for reproductive justice on campus.

Events like this are important because they foster a community regarding issues that are confusing, emotional or isolating,” Nieves said. “With so many resources available and speakers willing to discuss their experiences, students and community members can feel empowered and encouraged to reach out and form connections with one another.

Pittsburgh Abortion Access Network hosted student organizations and local advocates in the William Pitt Union for the first Reproductive Justice, Health and Rights Convention from Feb. 22-24. 

Alexa Pierce, a senior political science and law, criminal, justice and society major, said a convention set-up was the best way to make resources available to students.

“We were thinking about how we want to integrate both student organizing and community organizing around reproductive justice rights and health,” Pierce said. “We went into this trying to connect students to different committee organizations that we know about and have worked with before. Some of the community organizations are new, so we wanted to give them a little bit more exposure to meet with students and make those connections.”

Some of the local vendors and speakers included Allegheny Reproductive Health, The Autonomous Body Shop and Tri-State Abortion Action. The event included panels, discussions and Q&As with attendees. 

Pierce believes reproductive justice is a very broad concept.

“Reproductive justice is about the right to have children and raise them in a healthy and safe and supportive environment and the right to not have children, and also without access to different reproductive health care resources,” Pierce said. “That might include abortion, but it’s not just about abortion. It’s a broader encompassing movement that is founded on the human rights framework, but definitely is inclusive of abortion access.”

Katie Emmert, a Student Government Board board member, said it “means so much” to learn from the community members doing the work. 

“I think it’s really important to honor the community members and the grassroots organizing that’s happening, because most of the time it’s this organizing that’s connecting people directly to the services they need,” Emmert said. “I think it shows how special the abortion access network and organizing in general [is].”

Pierce feels it’s important to “meet people where they’re at” when it comes to access to and knowledge about reproductive health.

“I think there’s a lot of barriers that exist sometimes when you’re going through more traditional rounds of organizing,” Pierce said. “I think it’s really important to kind of think of out-of-the-box ideas and ways you can interact with people [and] access the care that they need.”

Nieves found it valuable to hear from doulas who spoke at the event because of their firsthand experiences and stories from the field.

“The most valuable thing I learned was what a doula is and hearing some of their advice and personal experiences supporting people throughout childbirth,” Nieves said. “I had heard of doulas before this event, but I had never talked with any firsthand, so having a conversation with them was invaluable.” 

On Friday, participants gathered to make self-care bags for abortion patients, which Pierce cited as her favorite part of the convention.

“Everyone got in a little assembly line and just passed it back down and put some stuff in it, and it was really great to see everyone gathered for the community and have a good time,” Pierce said. “It felt good to do something and donate them to the clinics.”

Emmert hopes that students who want to be involved can make lasting connections and remain involved in reproductive justice efforts.

“I think this event allows people to make their own connections and ask individual questions about this work,” Emmert said. “I think it’s just a matter of being able to bridge the gap between students who want to be involved and the people who are actually involved.”

Nieves felt the convention was a “warm environment” and would participate in PAAN events in the future. 

“It feels great knowing that there are community members and students who work so hard to bring physical and educational resources to campus, especially for free,” Nieves said. “For those who are unsure of where to start educating themselves or finding resources, there are many events and discussions around campus that provide a safe, comfortable environment to have these conversations.”

About the Contributor
Adrienne Cahillane, Senior Staff Writer