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Keep Legal Abortion sign being held in front of capital building

Anschutz Students Mobilize to Protect Reproductive Rights in Colorado

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Less than two years after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, Anschutz Advocates, a student-led Planned Parenthood chapter on campus, are petitioning for Colorado to protect reproductive rights. From medical to pharmacy, students across the campus came together this Spring to sign a petition for getting a constitutional amendment declaring the right to an abortion on the November ballot.

The constitutional amendment, initiated by Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom, seeks to ensure comprehensive access to reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortion, and prenatal care, without undue interference or restrictions. It also emphasizes protection from government overreach, granting access to reproductive health decisions to only the patient and their provider.

The Anschutz Advocates are a student-led chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation (PPG). PPG is a youth movement that has chapters at universities around the nation to encourage student involvement in advocacy and the reproductive rights movement. The Anschutz Advocates are a part of a network of young activists across the country who organize events on their campuses and in their communities to mobilize reproductive advocacy, raise public awareness, and create lasting change in their communities.

Anschutz students aren’t the only ones organizing for the bill, Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom began the petition in January, timing its campaign launch with the 51st anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Other involved organizations include Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and the ACLU of Colorado.

Who are the Anschutz Advocates?

Roopa Bhat, first-year medical student and president of the Anschutz Advocates, founded the chapter this year in hopes of recruiting more passionate health science students to fight for reproductive freedom. 

“I think it's very important for future healthcare professionals to get involved in health policy and take direct action through advocacy at a political level,” she said. “There are already groups that focus on reproductive rights awareness and education on sexual healthcare, but I wanted to create a way for students to be exposed to reproductive health policy and take small steps to ensuring healthcare is preserved on a state and national level."

Other students have been motivated by Bhat’s actions and have been quick to step up in agreement. When Cyara Brooks, third-year pharmacy student and treasurer of the Anschutz Advocates, was asked about why she joined the group she said, “Because we as women deserve a say over what happens to our bodies. Reproductive rights encompass autonomy, a basic human right that is now unprotected in many states.”

Members of the club assert that enshrining these rights in the state constitution is essential for protecting individuals' health, privacy, and fundamental freedoms. Beyond this bill, the group is currently planning a community outreach project to educate those in lower socioeconomic communities about reproductive health and provide connections to Planned Parenthood Colorado. Many of the students involved said being an advocate for your community is essential in healthcare, and this group is demonstrating how influential student voices can be.

To learn more about Anschutz Advocates and their events, please contact secretary Courtney Difilippo, courtney.difilippo@cuanschutz.edu.

This story was written for the Colorado School of Public Health by Cortney Pfeaster.