This week, the Bowdoin Reproductive Justice Coalition (BRJC) hosted its first Reproductive Health Week, a coordinated effort to increase awareness of reproductive health services on campus and bolster student involvement in various arenas of reproductive healthcare advocacy.
The week’s efforts, spearheaded by BRJC leaders Luisa Wolcott-Breen ’25, Kaitlin Weiss ’25 and Cambron Wade ’24, were designed to diminish the stigma around these topics.
“Our motto for the week is ‘education, conversation and advocacy,’” Wolcott-Breen said.
To kick off the week, the BRJC tabled in Smith Union on Monday afternoon, providing information on reproductive health services at the College. The BRJC enlisted the help of Physician Assistant Julie Gray from Bowdoin Health Services to field questions and assist the tabling efforts.
The BRJC also partnered with other groups on campus, including Healthy Masculinities. On Tuesday, the two organizations hosted a joint meeting to bridge the gender divide in discussions of reproductive health.
“[The meeting] was something that totally merged with our goals of discussing masculinity very broadly and how we, as men, can think about our identities and how they affect ourselves and those around us,” Healthy Masculinities co-leader Miles Berry ’25 said. “I think that goal came through in this event.”
Benny Adler ’25, who leads Healthy Masculinities alongside Berry, echoed this sentiment.
“The mobilization of groups of people towards reproductive justice, especially as it relates to men, usually happens on a one-on-one level. I think [our] actions going forward in regards to reproductive justice would be to use our identity to invite other men to these spaces,” Adler said.
On Wednesday night, the BRJC hosted a student panel on birth control options in 24 College. Students like Frances Hornbostel ’25, who attended and participated in the event, jumped at the chance to talk with other students about the often taboo topic.
“I was really excited to talk openly about something that I’ve had a lot of personal experience with and offer my perspective and talk with a bunch of other cool people about their perspectives,” Hornbostel said.
On Thursday night, the BRJC hosted a screening of the documentary “Connie Cook,” followed by a discussion with the documentary’s co-director Sue Perlgut. The group will partner with the Women of Color Coalition on Friday for a dinner discussion on reproductive justice at 6:00 p.m. in Adams 208.
“We decided to reach out to as many groups as possible in order to get as many people as possible engaged in this work and in conversation about this,” Wolcott-Breen said.
To end the week, the BRJC is canvassing in partnership with Planned Parenthood in Portland from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. BRJC’s leaders see this event as an opportunity to expand their impact beyond the Bowdoin community.
“[In] the end, we want to get people involved in Brunswick and other places outside of our campus. And so that’s where the outreach comes in,” Wolcott-Breen said.
Weiss added that the BRJC chose to host Reproductive Health Week right before the midterm elections and collaborate with Get Out the Vote and Planned Parenthood to raise awareness of the pending fate of the legality of abortion in Maine. Weiss emphasized that this election will directly influence reproductive health and treatment options at Bowdoin as well.
“I think that for a lot of the Bowdoin community, the way people are voting has a lot to do with whether or not the candidate will continue to protect safe, legal abortions in Maine or not,” Weiss said. “It’s a terrifying concept that where I go to college—where I live for most of the year—could be a place where abortion becomes illegal.”
Reproductive Health Week and the BRJC’s goals highlight a broader reimagining of the organization’s role on campus and the ways in which they seek to engage people in the conversation around reproductive health rights.
“Our goal for the coalition is that it becomes a resource on campus for anyone to lead any initiative regarding reproductive justice that they feel passionate about and that we can use Bowdoin’s resources and our resources as a club to get those initiatives started,” Weiss said.