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Annual Reproductive Rights Conference

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College celebrated its 25th year working for reproductive rights at its annual conference, "From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom." The April 7-9 conference brought together 1,000 new and longtime activists from across the U.S. and overseas for a weekend filled with workshops, entertainment, and strategy-building sessions.

In light of South Dakota's recent ban on abortion and the threat that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, the conference provided a crucial space for activists to strategize to keep abortion legal and accessible. The conference offered over 30 workshops on topics including sex education, worker's rights, population control, the environment, HIV/AIDS, and peace. Other conference highlights included workshops on careers in the reproductive rights movement and the history of reproductive rights activism in the Pioneer Valley. Saturday evening entertainment included a performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, a New York based group that spoofs televangelism with anti-consumerist street theater.

Shelby Knox, star of the award-winning documentary The Education of Shelby Knox, which recently aired on PBS, spoke about the importance of comprehensive sex education and the implications of abstinence-only programs. Other speakers included State Representative Ellen Story, who spoke on a panel on how to increase involvement in electoral politics; Frances Crowe, 85-year old local peace activist and founder of the Traprock Peace Center in Deerfield, Mass.; and Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 1,300 local and national groups throughout the U.S. who oppose the war in Iraq.

Since its formation in 1981, the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program has trained students and young people as reproductive rights activists and worked to expand the reach and impact of the movement by connecting reproductive rights to other concerns such as economic justice, healthcare reform, racial equality and civil liberties, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

More information about the conference can found online.

Media contact:
Amy Oliver,
Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program


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