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U of MN students, community demand more abortion clinics

By Annie Russell

Protestors march through U of MN campus calling for more funding and access

Minneapolis, MN – On July 2, over 100 people marched across the University of Minnesota campus calling for the opening and funding of abortion clinics across the state.

The protest, organized by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was called after the declaration of Minnesota as a sanctuary state for abortion services in the Midwest, despite there only being eight clinics total in the state. Additionally, SDS called for the University of Minnesota to open abortion clinics on all of its campuses, as reportedly the university had run an abortion clinic in the past until it was shut down in 1977.

Before the march began, protesters gathered with their umbrellas and signs at McNamara Plaza, with chants and speakers from grassroots organizations across the metro such as the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), the Climate Justice Committee, the Antiwar Committee and more.

Robyn Harbison of SDS spoke to the crowd: “With Minnesota now becoming the lone state in the Upper Midwest to have access to legal abortion, it has become abundantly clear that we need more abortion clinics in Minnesota. Not just within the Twin Cities area, but in more counties, more rural areas, and more University of Minnesota campuses like Morris, Crookston, Duluth and Rochester.”

Harbison went on to detail SDS’s other current demands of university administration, including the creation of a reproductive health training module to be used in freshman orientation, the establishment of a reproductive health advocacy and education center for students, and a boycott of states with heartbeat bills, stating: “As an institution with a high degree of buying power, the University of Minnesota should cease in bringing business to states with extreme abortion restrictions such as heartbeat bills.”

Mira Altobell-Resendez, speaking for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said, “The clinics that do exist here are already operating at a limited capacity because of the number of people seeking the healthcare they need from severely underfunded abortion providers. If we don’t get more abortion clinics, the people of Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest will suffer due to not being able to terminate unwanted pregnancies, which will inevitably result in deeper levels of poverty and countless preventable deaths.”

Altobell-Resendez continued, “This is no accident: it is capitalism’s way of keeping itself alive by exploiting women, queer & gender non-conforming people, oppressed nationality people and the working class. To the ruling class, the safety of these people is expendable as long as their bodies fuel their economy.”

After the speeches, the protesters marched down Washington Avenue, briefly stopping the light rail and drawing the attention of its passengers and those waiting at the East Bank station, before continuing down the campus mall and ending at Morrill Hall, which houses the office of University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. During their closing remarks, emcees Olivia Crull and Midori Van Alstine of SDS encouraged the crowd to organize and join the fight for women’s and reproductive rights.

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