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Nationwide feminist organization tours Northern California campuses

The Feminist Majority Foundation sign. (Alixandra Greenman)

As a part of a two week-long Northern California college tour, representatives from Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF)’s campus program came to Mills College Feb 23.

West Coast organizers for the FMF Campus Team, Allie McDonald and Jacqueline Sun, met with members of the Women’s Health Resource Center (WHRC) to discuss their new Adopt-a-Clinic campaign, among other ongoing programs. Their entire two week-long tour lasted from Feb. 22 to March 5.

THE WHRC is a student-run organization that provides sexual and reproductive health resources to students on campus.

“The point of this trip is to have that one-on-one face time with the hardworking groups that we work with like the WHRC,” McDonald said.

In addition to meeting with members of WHRC at their weekly Wednesday night meeting, McDonald and Sun tabled in Adam’s Plaza during the day. There they discussed current FMF campaigns and encouraged students, staff and faculty to sign a petition to stop the Stupak/Pitts Amendment – a revision to the current health care bill that, if passed, would bar federal money from supporting abortions.

FMF’s campus program has relationships with more than 250 student organizations across the country and the organizers said they are always looking to expand as well as strengthen current relationships.

“It is pretty exciting that all of these campuses have or are about to launch feminist student groups,” McDonald said.

In addition to visiting the campus and meeting with Mills students, McDonald and Sun went to UC Berkeley, Berkeley City College, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, Sonoma State, Chico State and Butte Community College as a part of their Northern California tour.

“We get to strengthen our relationships so much by doing this,” McDonald said.

Sun agreed with McDonald about the significance of the trip.

“It is important to do this because a lot of the groups we’re meeting with really need the support,” Sun said.

According to McDonald, there has been a rise in anti-abortion violence. The latest of these acts was the murder of George Tiller, the Kansas abortion doctor who was killed by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder last year.

The Adopt-a-Clinic campaign is a grassroots effort to pair feminist organizations with local women’s health clinics threatened by anti-abortion demonstrators, according to the FMF Web site. It was developed in response to an anti-abortion campaign launched in 2007 called “40 Days for Life,” which relies on prayer and community outreach to spread its message.

McDonald said the main goal in visiting Mills was to get more people involved in helping Oakland-based clinic Family Planning Specialists. According to McDonald, the clinic is being targeted by an anti-abortion activist who “has made this clinic his project.”

She said anti-abortion activists often use a tactic called “sidewalk counseling,” where demonstrators urge women entering a clinic not to follow through with the procedure.

McDonald and Sun were also interested in getting the WHRC involved with a local group that organizes clinic escorts – volunteers who accompany patient into clinics in an attempt to shield them from anti-abortion demonstrators – every Tuesday morning and on one Saturday each month.

When McDonald and Sun brought up this idea at the WHRC meeting, individual members were interested in participating with the local organization.

Rebecca Williams, a senior and WHRC member, said the feeling of solidarity between FMF and the WHRC is mutual.

“We’re partners in advocating for women,” Williams said.

Williams also explained why the WHRC became an affiliate of FMF in the first place.

“We got in touch with FMF because partnering with local organizations allows us to outreach to the greater community,” she said.