In 1998, forty activists came together on the eve of the CLPP conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, to discuss how to broaden the issues that define reproductive rights and to ensure that younger voices were a part of this dialogue. Most of the participants were younger women, who had been trying to have their voices heard in this movement, and their allies, those who recognized the need to reach beyond traditional constituencies and create a strong network of allies.
Nicole Heig, Amherst College alum & CLPP Conference participant, shares how the CLPP conference influenced her life:
“No decision of the Supreme Court in the history of this country has ever been so important to women’s liberty, equality, and health as the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade which declared and recognized that a woman’s right to choose abortion is part of out fundamental right of privacy.” – Janet Benshoof, human right’s activists, speaking at the very first CLPP Symposium in 1983
From the beginning CLPP and Pop Dev have provided space for student academic and activist leadership to take root. There are countless examples of students connecting what we learn in the classroom to our political organizing, and bringing that experience back to campus and the classroom. Over the years, students have been challenging and supporting each other to think critically and be engaged in our communities.
Throughout the 80s, students completed Division 3s (Hampshire College senior thesis projects) on surrogacy, birth and fetal rights, sterilization abuse, reproductive health care, and the history of the abortion rights movement.
And took classes including:
Last fall, I became the CLPP Director after overseeing programming, new collaborations and strategic planning work as the Associate Director of Programs. Joining me on CLPP’s leadership team are my wonderful colleague Amy Crysel, CLPP’s Director of Operations and Finance, and our long-time director Marlene Fried, who transitioned into the role of faculty director (and is currently serving as Hampshire’s interim president). We have been very excited to implement a new model of shared leadership that affirms our commitment to bridging academics and activism, mentoring and developing new leadership and providing leadership opportunities within, and cross-generational dialogues and collaborations.
Earlier this month, we were thrilled when Marlene was honored at the Roe anniversary event hosted by the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts, Tapestry Health and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts:
38 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, it seems incredible that we are now fighting attacks on reproductive and sexual rights that would make abortions out of reach for almost all women. Since the mid-term elections, many of our supporters have asked me if I thought we were losing ground. Although the Right has been emboldened by these legislative gains, we have always been bold. And our movement is now so deep and strong, we have a new capacity to meet these political and cultural battles, on our own terms. The Congressional briefing organized this month by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, with the National Network of Abortion Funds, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and the Black Women’s Health Imperative, shows we have the D.C. presence and power at this moment to ensure our stories are heard.
For 30 years, our students, staff and the community activists we have worked with have refused to segregate abortion from all the other issues that are central to our lives and our exercise of reproductive autonomy. We are now teachers, lawyers, community organizers and leaders, health care providers, filmmakers, bloggers and journalists. Today, our students are organizing rides to join the rally for women’s health in Foley Square on Saturday, in New York. We will not go back. We are ready to rally. Our movement is stronger now than ever before.
CLPP alum Unique Robinson, Hampshire College F’05, shares a significant memory from her time with CLPP: