Reproductive rights in Alaska: Past, present and future.

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Helen Nienhueser speaks about her life experiences at Before Roe V. Wade and After: Reproductive Rights and Alaska's Future. Photo credit: Young Kim

On Friday March 4, Generation Action: Students for Reproductive Justice at UAA hosted an event to raise money for Planned Parenthood. The title for the event was Before Roe v. Wade and After: Reproductive Rights and Alaska’s Future. The event was hosted on Friday, March 4, in the Student Union. Generation Action, educated the public about the past, present and future battles of reproductive rights in the state of Alaska, as well as the country. The event hosted two guest speakers, Helen Nienhueser and Jessica Cler.

Helen Nienhueser, who spoke on the topic of the past, was pivotal in organizing a movement across the state to change the abortion laws of the state of Alaska. In 1970, her efforts were brought to fruition when Alaska became the third state in the nation, behind Hawai’i and New York, to allow women abortion with consultation of their doctor. Three years before Row v. Wade. Neinhuesser spoke about the conflicts that arose during her fight for the rights of women across the state, and discussed how she did it with twentieth century technology. Meeting with journalists and getting their events covered played a pivotal role for Nienhueser and her effort.

The event then transitioned into the present situation of reproductive rights for women. With Jessica Cler discussing the present and future of state and national reproductive health, to portray how far they have to go.

“It’s really important to know that the fight in 1973, Roe v. Wade, was not the end, it’s just the beginning.” said Zhenia Peterson, a member of Generation Action. “We really need to keep in mind the past, but we also need to look toward the future.”

Jessica Cler, ‎Alaska Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood, continued the conversation with looks at laws taking action in the current time and spoke about their effects, if put into place, on the future of reproductive health. Cler discussed how these bills would require abortion clinics to rise to a standard of a surgical center and requiring doctors to have admitting privileges, would consequently shut down many abortion clinics around the country. These bills are currently being reviewed by different branches of government and may possibly be passed.

“We are seeing so many attacks on reproductive health access and reproductive rights. The public needs to be way more aware that these attacks are going on, and we definitely need more people taking action.” said Jack Bohannon, a member of Generation Action.

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The presenters and the hosts both emphasize the importance and the relevance of the issues at hand, pointing out that the fight didn’t end at Roe v. Wade, but continues even to this day.

“I think young people are getting engaged across the country, but especially here in the state. Generation action here on campus is super involved and super engaged and they’re the future leaders of this movement,” said Cler. “I hope that people recognize the opportunity and the need to get involved.”

To learn more about how you can get involved reach out to club Generation Action Students for Reproductive Justice at University of Alaska Anchorage. The club keeps up to date on the issue of reproductive health and justice and creates opportunities for students to get involved.