An assortment of bright and colorful Valentine-themed sweet treats were spread along a table in a prime location on campus. The sweets helped students raise money for the local Planned Parenthood branch,
which provides a various services for sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Voices for Planned Parenthood, or VOX, is a club on campus working to raise money for the Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood. The club tabled at Vendors Row to hold an erotically-themed bake sale on Friday, Feb. 12 to raise funds and inform students about Planned Parenthood. Sage Appel, president of the club, said the bake sale promotes sex positivity and educates people about the anatomy of both themselves and their partners, in addition to raising money.
Western freshman Robert Pugh is a member of VOX and worked at the bake sale. Pugh said they sold an assortment of erotically-shaped cookies, frosted chocolate and vanilla cupcakes shaped like nipples, heart-shaped frosted cookies with words like “DTF” and “bae” on them, and homemade cards with condoms taped on the inside.
He said it was a lot of fun seeing people’s reactions to what they were selling.
The funds will go toward a variety of services related to reproductive health and family planning offered at the local Planned Parenthood branch.
“[Planned Parenthood] offers a [variety] of services. Not only do they provide abortion services but they also assist in planning your future parenthood. … They refer people to adoption services if that is their decision. They do STI screenings, as well as various cancer screenings,” Pugh said. “They also provide counseling for queer youth.”
VOX members also get involved in the political process, which includes going to VOX Lobby Day. Supporters in pink Planned Parenthood shirts storm the State Capitol to promote pro-women’s health legislation, according to the website for Planned Parent Votes Northwest and Hawaii.
“It’s a great way to have your voice be heard… It’s a great way for people to learn about the efficacy of your own actions,” Appel said.
Phaolan Class hoped to talk to legislators about which women’s health bills they should or should not support, she said. One of the main bills they will be pushing would allow a year’s supply of birth control to be available to people all at one time, Class said.
“I’m hoping it goes really well,” she said.
The last VOX Lobby Day occurred on Feb. 15.
The bill would benefit people living in rural areas or far away from where they pick up birth control because they would not have to go every month to get it, said Pugh. According to the Planned Parenthood website, Washington does not require parental consent for birth control when it comes to minors. That means this bill would also benefit them.
Appel said this bill is important because when birth control is used incorrectly it results in unintended pregnancy. One of the main reasons this happens is because people cannot get their prescription in time, or do not have transportation to a pharmacy.
Though Pugh has not attended a VOX Lobby Day, he has attended the lobby on behalf of Planned Parenthood three times. He described the event as an amazing and surreal experience. He is originally from a small town, so the ability to meet with politicians and share his opinion and story is significant for him, he said
“It’s really awesome and feels like I’m making a big difference in the world,” Pugh said.
Students also want the legislators to know the importance maintaining the amount of funding for family planning services from the state and federal government, Class said.
“With all the other bills being passed, some budget cuts have to be made. We want to make sure they aren’t in family planning,” Class said.
VOX does more than just fundraising and lobbying. The club has two main purposes on campus, said Appel.
“At our Safe Sex Friday table [on Vendors Row], we provide lube and condoms,” Appel said. “We can [also] answer questions about Planned Parenthood if people are interested in volunteering,” Appel said.
The second purpose is activism and advocacy.
“VOX is an awesome club and helps you become a better activist,” Pugh said
The club also focuses on the issue of intersectionality in the social justice movement, said Appel. She said it is important that activists understand that one issue affects all issues.
“You can’t fight for reproductive rights without fighting for anti-racism. There is systematic racism within the healthcare system,” Appel said.
At the meetings, diversity and cultural sensitivity are emphasized, Appel said.
“We provide an outlet for people who are interested in advocacy,” Appel said. “We use the reproductive rights movement to become more involved and make sure their voices are heard.”
Class said discussions about both sex and body positivity are important for students on campus
“We do a lot of outreach and awareness about sex positivity and sex education,” Class said. The club does this through workshops, movie screenings and discussions.
One recent example of this encouragement of sex positivity outreach was a presentation on Feb. 1 about sex toys, which was assisted by Lovers in Bellingham.
The club held a similar bake sale last year that had great turnout, Class said.
Pugh was unsure how the bake sale compared to previous years, but thought it was successful. He said the group only had six items left at the end of the day.
“People are very generous at Western when it comes to matters of Planned Parenthood. I think it is largely because we all know at least one person in our life who has needed Planned Parenthood,” said Appel.
To learn more about VOX, search their Facebook page “VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood (WWU Chapter)”