September’s passage of Senate Bill 8 shook Annabel Yu. The Southlaker and current high school senior viewed the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortions after six weeks, as an attack on women.
“I felt angry that day,” Yu recalled. “I didn’t understand how such a law could be passed that restricted women’s bodily autonomy.”
Over the next two days, her anger galvanized into resolve. Yu, with the help of some close friends, started a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, the national nonprofit that provides a wide range of healthcare services for women. The teens decided that tote bags and T-shirts would be popular and easy to sell. One tee design features a black shirt emblazoned with the name of the nonprofit Yu founded in January, Change 4 Choice, in neon pink lettering (available at Change4Choice.org).
Yu’s nonprofit includes a website, original blogs, and links to purchase Change 4 Choice merchandise. Many tees and bags also bear her group’s motto: For Her Is for Us.
“It means that fighting for abortion rights is really not just going to affect women in this country,” Yu said. “It’s an inclusive slogan. It symbolizes that our goal and mission is not just going to affect women in this country.”
The leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade and the subsequent overturning of the landmark decision make Yu and her team realize that Texas’ loss of reproductive rights was now a national battle.
“We kept raising our fundraising goals” to $5,000, Yu said. “Now, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we are seeing more support across the country. Our generation is going to bear the brunt of this new reality. I have more of a duty to stand up against this.”
Along with millions of American teens, Yu will soon enter adulthood without the once constitutionally protected right to abortion. Even as one right has been stripped, Yu sees her generation — Gen Z — as having several advantages over past generations.
“Our generation is going to become the main population of voters,” she said. “Most of us tend to be very left-leaning. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it was an eye opener for girls and women my age. Although some of us aren’t of voting age yet, it is important that we eventually vote for politicians who will stand up for our choice and our rights.”
Based on 2020 Pew Research Center data, 61% of Gen Z voters (ages 18 to 23) said they planned to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Just over six in 10 young voters voted for Biden.
“I think a lot of high schoolers, both pro-choice and pro-life, are keeping up to date with political issues, thanks to social media,” Yu said. “Most of the people around me keep up through Instagram and Twitter to keep themselves informed. Because of the advantages of social media, it is a lot easier to know what is happening right now in a quick and informative way.”
To magnify their reach, Change 4 Choice members started the Social Media Ambassador program. The idea is to allow supporters to share Change 4 Choice posts and messaging across different social media platforms.
“I just really want to keep raising money for Planned Parenthood,” Yu said. “That is the best way we can provide support. We will keep doing what we are doing and connecting with states that have restrictive abortion laws and bans.”
Follow Change 4 Choice on Instagram @Change4ChoiceTX.