By Grace McFadden
On Saturday, Oct. 26, UConn students and Mansfield community members held a rally outside the Rome Ballroom to protest a fundraiser for Caring Families Pregnancy Services. Caring Families, a pro-life nonprofit group, is best known for their MobileCare van, a crisis pregnancy center often seen parked on Fairfield Way.
The protest began an hour prior to the start of the banquet with the roughly fifty attendants chanting in support of reproductive rights, and then moved on to speeches from the organizers and attendants. One person leading the chants was Ellie Lott, a fifth semester psychology major and member of UConn Youth for Socialist Action. Lott helped organize the rally with Mansfield community members involved with the International Women’s Strike.
“We’re standing in solidarity with International Women’s Strike who organized this in the first place to show our support for everyone, all pregnant people who need access to healthcare, and pregnant people who need access to abortions,” said Lott. “Abortion is not just a women’s issue. It affects more than just women.”
The protest grew more heated as the afternoon progressed, eventually culminating with banquet-goers and protesters yelling at each other. This altercation was quickly neutralized by police, however.
This was not the first protest against Caring Families of the week. Their MobileCare Van, which was parked on the seal on Fairfield Way on Friday, October 25, also drew protesters.
President of Caring Families Jeremy Bradley refuted the protesters’ claims.
“I’d like to address the literature they were passing out, as we found it to deceptive, defamatory and filled with misinformation.” said Bradley in an email. “We know it would be beneficial to UCONN and its students for our services to continue and it would be equally beneficial for us and the student group that protested, if we could work together to fill the support gaps needed for students on the campus.”
In addition to the MobileCare Van, Caring Families also runs the Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut, a crisis pregnancy center. Because of this, one of the speakers at the fundraiser was Roland Warren, the CEO of CareNet. CareNet is a national network of crisis pregnancy centers of which the Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut is an affiliate. A bill to ban deceptive advertising practices often used by crisis pregnancy centers gained traction in Connecticut legislature earlier this year.
Bradley denied that Caring Families misinforms women.
“All our medical information we provide is accurate and cited and we have never lied about medical information or how far along a pregnancy is,” said Bradley. “There is nothing false or misleading on our websites.”
The protest was about more than just misinformation, however. Senior cognitive science and anthropology major Katharine Morris said she went to the protest because she felt it was important for her voice to be heard as a woman of color.
“Reproductive justice is important to me not only as a woman, but as a black woman whose rights are always infringed upon more than anyone else’s,” said Morris. “Hopefully we made a difference in making some people reconsider their involvement with these people, but if not we just put up a good stand against what we think is wrong.”
Ash Bean, one of the organizers from International Women’s Strike Connecticut, emphasized the importance of intersectionality at the event.
“We have to consider issues of race, class, sexuality, ability, when examining abortion policies,” said Bean. “We’re here to make a stand because the evangelical groups do not recognize the intersectionality that is at play here, and they do not support equitable and comprehensive healthcare and childcare for all people.”