For more than 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota — aka the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League — has supported the rights of women to make their own decisions around birth control, paid family leave, and abortion access. Its college internship program trains students to organize and educate within their campus communities. Here are the reflections of four of those interns, about what it means to be a reproductive rights activist in Minnesota.
Lupe Romero, St. Olaf College
I absolutely loved my experience as a reproductive rights activist, helping to facilitate campus events about the political climate on abortion and reproductive health. These conversations are crucial. It is especially important, as a woman of color, for me to be the voice for those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves, and to be able to vote for policy-makers who make decisions on reproductive rights. Activism can make us feel influential and empowered even during these difficult times.
Meg Hinson, Macalester College
I am from a small, conservative town. I arrived at Macalester unsure about where I stood on reproductive rights. As I read up on abortion laws, listened to politicians discuss the topic, and escorted at clinics, it become important to me to recognize anti-choice actions as actively harmful, rather than simply a difference of opinion. I have dear friends who are stoutly anti-choice. I am not doing them a service by pretending that their actions do not harm others and me. Being intimately exposed to the issues of reproductive rights motivates me to stop hiding behind my privilege in the name of civil discourse.
Alisha Puja Chaudhry, St. Olaf College
I volunteered as a clinic escort at an abortion clinic in Minnesota for the first time during my freshman year in college. In 2018 and 2019, I led a reproductive rights group at St. Olaf, where we worked to educate the student population about disparities in access to reproductive health care, specifically for people of color and people of lower socio- economic standing. The experience really opened my eyes. Being an activist for reproductive rights has been challenging, important, and has allowed me to be part of an amazing community. Our work has been about moving beyond the binary of pro-choice/pro-life to find connection with intersectional issues, and to create an environment in which a person can make decisions about their own body.
Hannah Maycock, Macalester College
Being a student activist gave me the opportunity to become engaged in an issue I care about. It also allowed me to connect in my new home of Minnesota. Moving across the country for school can be daunting, and it can be difficult to connect to anything outside the boundaries of campus. However, as a campus organizer for NARAL, I connected with other activists around the state. Being an organizer, a full-time student, and an intern was often draining, but it gave me much more than I ever anticipated.