Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Abortion speakout gives platform for stories, support


Cary, Illinois sophomore Kaitlyn Anderson speaks at Abortion Speak Up Speak Out March 23 in Anspach 161.

Planned Parenthood posters decorated the door leading into Anspach Hall Room 161 on Thursday as the registered student organization, VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, hosted an abortion speakout.

About 30 people listened to 16 participants share their stories or the stories of others regarding abortion.

VOX president and Lapeer junior Liberty Ann Quijas-Klebba said there were several goals behind the event the group wanted to achieve.

“We aimed to help end the stigma on abortion, to give different perspectives, to open up some minds and to provide people who may have felt ashamed or have never shared their story with a safe place to express that story," she said.

VOX is a pro-choice group that has hosted this event since its inception as an RSO, Quijas-Klebba said.

“The statistic is that 1-in-3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime,” Quijas-Klebba said. “The 1-in-3 campaign essentially helps bring stories to the light of people who have experienced abortion.”

The speakout was not just confined to the topic of abortion. Issues of bodily autonomy were also discussed.

“We decided to open the speakout to include stories of bodily autonomy because there was an event where people were expressing their own experiences (with this topic) and they were met with a really hostile speaker and environment,” Quijas-Klebba said. “We [VOX] thought it was unacceptable and wanted to create a safe space to share these stories without judgment.”

VOX members set rules in the beginning of the meeting to create this safe space and protect the confidentiality of those speaking. In addition, SAPA members were present.

“We were here to show love and support,” said Wyandotte sophomore Ashleigh Laho, who read a 1-in-3 campaign piece at the event. “We had SAPA’s here who were available to talk to anyone who felt overwhelmed and needed someone to talk through whatever they were feeling.”

Chesterfield sophomore and audience member Brittany Ouellette echoed this statement.

“I believe it is important to show my support for people who go through things such as those discussed tonight,” Ouellette said. “It’s important to show that is okay for people to have stories they would like to talk about.”

Both Laho and Ouellette believe more events such as this one should occur on campus.

“I am pro-choice and think we need to make more effort to reach out to those that have experienced abortion and other things discussed tonight,” Laho said. “We need to let them know that they are loved and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”