By Ryan Spencer
Section: NewsMarch 24, 2017
Three Brandeis alumnae who were involved in the pro-choice movement during their time at Brandeis spoke in a panel sponsored by Brandeis Pro-Choice on Wednesday, March 22.
“One of the first things that we did is … we got clinic escort training,” Jen Revis Snider ’91 said, recounting her experience with the pro-choice movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Brandeis. “Our job was to form a human barrier [at clinics] so that [patients] could get by [pro-life protesters].”
Panelists discussed how Brandeis and the pro-choice movement has changed since they were at Brandeis.
“There was a much higher Jewish population,” Glenda Ganem ’88 said about her time at Brandeis. “Personally, growing up Jewish … activism and social justice was hand in hand with [my] faith, so really it just felt like a natural extension.”
The conversation also questioned whether Brandeis students had less time to be involved in causes than they used to.
“I think everyone is being pushed to grow up a little quicker,” Ganem said, suggesting that this causes students to devote less time to social causes.
“The combination of collective action is how things happen, everyone is busy,” said panelist Zoe Richman ’15. Richman works for NARAL.
“I think there is less of a sense of urgency now,” said Brandeis Pro-Choice President Susannah Miller ’19, who led the panel.
“When has there ever been an urgency for things that concern women?” Snider asked rhetorically, adding that it is up to women and their allies to push their cause. “[Brandeis] is the seed of where this needs to build. The energy and the time and the voice and the intelligence and the dedication comes from college campuses.”
The lack of urgency observed by Miller might be because the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade stated that people have the Constitutional right to choose to get an abortion, Ganem explained to the audience of approximately 10 students.
“Stuff is going to come up, there is going to be a sense of urgency,” said Snider, who referred many times to the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, who may seek to reverse pro-choice legislation.
The social aspect of the pro-choice movement at Brandeis helped the group garner support in the ’80s and ’90s, according to Snider who said there had been “a real sense of comradery” between her peers who had worked with her in the the movement.