“I love it! It’s like Reproductive Justice summer camp!” This was my answer when asked by Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund Executive Director, Laurie Bertram Roberts, what I thought of my first time at Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice. Now that I’m on the other side of last week’s 2-day conference, I still feel like my original assessment is accurate!
Take Root is a yearly convening of reproductive justice service providers, organizers, and activists at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. It is an opportunity for those of us working in the reproductive justice movement to gather and share our projects with each other and to look to one another for support.
The scope of the conference, and its content, centered voices from red states in particular. We were not only there to learn, but also to heal and recharge so that we can go back out and fight. I felt this from the moment I arrived on campus for the first session. In the entrance of the hall, there was an enormous map of the United States, accompanied by red sticky notes and markers. We were encouraged to write about how we are resisting threats to reproductive freedoms in our states and to post notes of encouragement to fellow RJ activists to “reclaim Red.” This exercise really set the tone of the event; we were here to fight for our home states, swap strategies, and cheer each other on as we face hostile lawmakers.
All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center was part of the exchange of strategies and ideas at this year’s Take Root convening. I presented on a panel titled “Using an All Options Approach to Abortion and Pregnancy Care,” where I and representatives from CHOICES Memphis and Buffalo WomenServices shared our experiences with providing full-spectrum reproductive health care, support and material assistance to the clients and patients we see in our work. Attendees were interested in how each organization works in their hostile home states with unlikely allies to benefit the health of our communities, as well as the holistic approaches we employ in providing pregnancy and parenting support.
Our all-options approach speaks to folks in a way that the pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy does not. We know that creating families can include parenting, abortion, and adoption and must ensure needs such as access to universal health care, safe and clean water, healthy food, and freedom from state violence. All-Options PRC aims to create a safe and supportive environment, where people can explore their pregnancy options, make decisions that are right for them and their families, and receive tangible, no-strings-attached support that includes everything from diapers to abortion funding.
So, now I have returned to work at All-Options PRC, like a kid returning to school after summer camp – but with a lot more energy to get to work! I have caught up with old friends, shared experiences with new ones, and established relationships with some of the dope-ass activists who do this work by my side! I am ready to take these new skills, and this renewed confidence and fire, and continue the fight to protect reproductive freedoms and secure prosperity for our communities!
– Amanda Pretlow Lamm, All-Options Program Coordinator