Photo Courtesy of Matthew Trevino
“One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.”
“12 percent of women live in poverty.”
“Up to 10 million women and one million men have eating disorders.”
“Total (state) clinic visits for Planned Parenthood dropped from 73,137 in 2011 to 55,335 in 2012.”
These and other facts were available to UTSA’s students during the Women’s Health Forum on Oct. 14. Hosted by the National Organization for Women (NOW) at UTSA, the event fostered a relaxed environment where organizations could inform the university community on health issues individuals may be hesitant to approach.
Two organizations that provided information on the politically taboo service of abortion were the 1 in 3 Campaign and the Lilith Fund.
The 1 in 3 Campaign provided miniature books with women — whose ages range from 18 to 35 and statuses from single to happily married — sharing the story of their abortion. However, the reasons they chose an abortion ranged from birth defects to a shattered future or a loveless relationship.
While the 1 in 3 Campaign organization focuses its efforts on conversations about abortion, the Lilith Fund focuses on raising money to provide low-income women with the choice to terminate their pregnancy.
“We have monthly happy hours and on top of that one other event such as a fundraiser or party,” said San Antonio volunteer Lindsay Rodriguez. Recent events included a screening of Dirty Dancing and a Psychic Fair featuring tarot and palm readings; all proceeds went to women seeking help from the Lilith Fund, along with any donations that came in.
“Unfortunately, San Antonio does not have a lot of volunteers and we would love to gain more,” said Rodriguez, who serves as the sole volunteer for San Antonio.
However, women’s health issues were not the sole topic of the event.
Trent Breitung, an educator for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF), noted that his organization holds numerous events to educate the public:
“We go to middle and high schools and educate them on STD and HIV/AIDS awareness. We reach out to about 20,000 individuals a year.”
Education, Brietung noted, is an important part of SAAF’s mission, as well as providing free testing. “We have a contract with Walgreens allowing us to park our red van in their parking lot, where we have free HIV testing with results in only 60 seconds. We also provide counseling for individuals; even if the results are negative, we go over the risk factors that those individuals can change in order to be safer.”
The pamphlets provided by SAAF were targeted for both women and men, and for individuals of all sexual orientations. The inclusion of all genders, orientations and lifestyles at this event changed the meaning of the event’s purpose of informing “women” on “women’s health” issues.
NOW, who hosted the event, advocates for “abortion rights and reproductive justice, stopping violence against women, constitutional equality, promoting diversity and ending racism, LGBTQ rights, and economic justice.”
With the primary purpose to not only provide information and help for women, but to all groups, NOW succeeded in conveying the importance of a full range of topics.
Matthew Chandler, a volunteer for NOW explained that “we try to address any form of marginalization. We are interested in any gender, sex, and LGBTQ health issues. This is a safe space for them.”