THE GROVE – Concerned St. Louisans packed into Fresh & Co. Studio on Thursday evening to learn the how-tos of volunteering in order to fight recent abortion legislation in Missouri.
This “how to” happy hour and fundraiser at the studio, 4366 Manchester Avenue, featured several speakers and advocates from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and It Starts Today-Missouri. Donations for the Gateway Women’s Access Fund were collected at the door.
Speakers for the evening included Kat Kissick of the Gateway Women’s Access Fund, Pamela Merritt of the national nonprofit Reproaction, OB-GYN Dr. Colleen McNicholas and others.
Merritt, co-founder of Reproaction, encouraged those in attendance to “never cede moral authority” to anti-abortion advocates.
“Stop acting as if we have anything to apologize for, for being in support of abortion,” she said.
Merritt went on to explain ways to get involved with Reproaction. One way, she said, is to volunteer outside pregnancy crisis centers, which she called “fake clinics.” She said the goal was to redirect women away from those clinics to ones that, she said, would actually help them.
She also spoke about the possibility of the Roe v. Wade decision’s being challenged.
“It’s not a matter of if,” she said. “It’s a matter of when.”
Others who addressed the crowd spoke about a myriad of topics, from the regulations placed on clinics to the need to be “unapologetically pro-abortion,” as Michelle Landeau, board president of the Gateway Women’s Access Fund, told the attendees of the happy hour.
McNicholas, who has been one of the foremost faces of the fight to renew the Central West End Planned Parenthood’s license to perform abortions at the clinic at 4251 Forest Park Avenue, said she was encouraged by the number of people in attendance at the happy hour.
“One of the ways I know we’re doing things right is when I’m seeing new people in the room, and I’m seeing a lot of new people,” she said.
The speakers were followed by a more casual happy hour. Those in attendance were encouraged to mingle, enjoy wine and sign up for alerts and volunteer opportunities at various abortion rights organizations, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood.