Reproductive rights are a central issue that could determine the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections. Vice President Kamala Harris met with 75 student leaders from 33 different states on October 14 to discuss ways to address reproductive rights. Among the students was Kathryn Ma, 19, a UC Riverside junior and public policy sophomore.
Ma was one of three UC students at the meeting representing the UC system. The student roundtable was the latest in a series of events by the vice president to promote reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs. The central topic of the meeting was the importance of voting in midterm elections.
Overturning Roe v. Wade means that each state is left to decide on its own abortion laws, and many states ban abortions or impose strict restrictions. Experts, including United Nations human rights experts, warn that more restrictive laws are likely to lead to more women and girls seeking unsafe abortions, a problem that disproportionately affects women of color.
“Reproductive rights are so important that it’s not just about abortion, it’s about women’s health and education about the stigma of menstruation,” said Ma, a woman of color and a staunch advocate for bodily autonomy.
Mach strengthened her resolve to advance these social and reproductive justice issues while still in middle and high school. She began working with the non-profit organization Generation Ratify and is currently the Director of Communications for the California team. Their goal is to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution to ensure that everyone in the country has equal rights. Earlier, she discussed the importance of equal reproductive rights and their advancement with California Attorney General Rob Bonta with a smaller delegation of students in the San Bernardino area.
The trip to Washington lasted three days, from Thursday to Saturday. Mach was housed in a UCDC apartment during her stay. UCDC housing is for UCC students participating in internships in Washington and through UCC system partnerships. Mach was grateful to UCR and the School of Public Policy for allowing her to represent student voices and giving her the resources to do so.
Mach was moved to see so many other students committed to advancing reproductive justice.
“I really enjoyed understanding that there are others and how together we can fight for great causes and bring justice to this world,” she said. “That’s how larger movements start.”