In the midst of a controversial Supreme Court confirmation and heightened debate over abortion across the country, the organizers of Harvard-Radcliffe Students for Choice are reviving their group after a relatively inactive period last year.
"This is an important time for choice in Massachusetts," co-coordinator Jessica S. Yellin '93 told the approximately 100 students who attended the group's first meeting in the Lamont Forum Room last night.
Yellin noted that 80 percent of Massachusetts voters say they favor abortion rights while 60 percent of the state legislature is opposed to abortion rights.
"When an overwhelmingly pro-choice state has a predominantly anti-choice legislature, you know somebody needs a reality check, and we're here to see that they get just that," she said.
Co-coordinator Julie D. Bornstein '92 added that despite the large percentage of advocates of abortion rights in the state, only 2 percent of them are actually active. Conversely, 50 percent of those opposed to abortion rights, which produces a "distorted view of what's going on," Bornstein said.
"We want to let the political community know that there's an active voice for choice here at Harvard," Bornstein said.
The attendants at last night's meeting were predominantly female, but the organization's leaders said they were encouraged that the meeting also attracted a handful of men.
"We want this group to be mainstream," Yellin said. One of the group's posters advertising last night's meeting specifically targeted Harvard men, asking them, "Are you ready for fatherhood?"
This year the group hopes to focus more on educating people on campus about the abortion issue rather than simply transporting students to national pro-choice marches in Washington, D.C., Bornstein and Yellin said.
The group's education campaign will primarily involve postering the campus with facts about state and national abortion legislation, as well as bulletins on the views of various politicians on the issue, Yellin said.
During the meeting last night, Yellin told students about a recently-failed proposal in the Massacusetts legislature that would have sentenced any woman who had an abortion to 13 years in an intensive labor camp. She spoke of another bill that proposed the execution of any doctor who performed an abortion illegally.
Aside from educating, the group's leaders hope their organization will also serve as a liaison through which Harvard students can become involved in local pro-choice activities, Bornstein said. She said the final goal would be a volunteer network that would assist groups such as Planned Parenthood and Mass Choice in everything from transporting abortion patients to clinics to rallying forces for political demonstrations.
Bornstein added that they also plan to organize fundraisers and letter writing campaigns, in addition to hosting several speakers and films and helping with voter registration.
"We're really psyched," Bornstein said. "We think there's a lot of interest on campus, and we just need to get it sparked."