On Sept. 29, several events were held at the University in support of Pink Out Day, otherwise known as Planned Parenthood’s National Day of Action. This day, along with the hashtag #StandWithPP, were born in response to the recent Republican-backed effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
This Republican pushback was a reaction to a series of controversial videos released by a pro-life group this summer. The videos showed a dialogue in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed selling organs and tissues from aborted fetuses for a profit. While it is not illegal to donate tissue for medical research, it is illegal to make a profit from it. Liberal politicians, including President Obama, argue that the videos were heavily misleading and highly edited. Conservatives, on the other hand, want the claims to be investigated further.
This is not the first attack on Planned Parenthood by the House of Representatives; however, this has particularly made waves as it comes right before Congress has to pass a budget, that, if not passed, could lead to another government shutdown. Many were worried that Republican representatives would tack on this Planned Parenthood defunding before they agreed to pass the larger bill.
Pink Out Day at the University was organized by Nina Gurak ’16 and Planned Parenthood Generation Action Intern Sophie Miller ’17. The event was held in Usdan, where students had the opportunity to sign a petition that will be sent to congressional representatives, as well as sign up for a listserv for a new campus chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation, the organization’s youth organizing group. The event coordinators intended to have an interactive art project advocating for a “sexually healthy body” outdoors, but this was ultimately suspended due to rain.
“With this event we hope to raise awareness on campus about the government’s fight to defund [Planned Parenthood],” Miller said. “Many people on this campus support [Planned Parenthood]; that is not the problem here. My goal is to mobilize students, to take their support and put it to use.”
Miller expressed her passion for Planned Parenthood’s mission and advocacy for reproductive rights.
“Pink Out Day is incredibly important to me because I find it so trivial that in 2015 we are still fighting for women to have autonomy when it comes to reproductive decisions,” she said. “We have been fighting this fight for over 50 years now and extremists in the government still insist on stopping us. They haven’t learned yet that people will continue to fight.”
Other students who stopped by the table in Usdan shared their opinions and the significance of this event. Christina Sickinger ’18 spoke to the importance of this organization.
“[Planned Parenthood] is great because of the availability of affordable healthcare and family planning for women,” she said.
Vina Vo ’18 agreed and further expressed her concerns about the possibility of Planned Parenthood being defunded.
“[I am worried about] sexual health resources being taken away, especially for low-income women who don’t have other options,” she said.
That same day, “Ice Cream and Sex Education”—an educational discussion on reproductive justice, Planned Parenthood, and sex education—was held in 200 Church, hosted by Gurack, Tess Williams ’19, Lily Kong ’16, and Leah Bakely ’16, and campus intern for Advocates for Youth David Lopez-Wade ’18.
“Pink Out Day is important to me because our bodies and our reproductive health are constantly being attacked,” Bakely wrote in an email to The Argus. “Planned Parenthood is one of the few organizations in the U.S. that not only advocates for the safety and health of our bodies, but also provides crucial services to so many people who otherwise would not have access to them… If Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, it wouldn’t just be devastating to the 2.7 million people who utilize Planned Parenthood annually.”
Lopez-Wade expressed his interest in broadening the scope of sex education at the University.
“Along with talking about [Planned Parenthood], I want to give the campus a sex-ed lesson—a real sex-ed lesson,” Lopez-Wade said. “After talking to some of the freshmen in my dorm, I’ve come to learn that many of them didn’t have any real sex-ed, besides passing around a condom. Unfortunately, this is the common story in the United States, which is why I fight to have comprehensive sexual education everywhere.”
Both Lopez-Wade and Miller referenced general misunderstandings surrounding Planned Parenthood and the services that it provides.
“It does more than just provide abortions for women,” Miller said. “In fact, abortions make up only three percent of what [Planned Parenthood] does…. No federal money can even be used for abortions. I am tired of misinformation concerning [Planned Parenthood] being circulated around.”
Kong also strongly endorsed Planned Parenthood’s wide range of services.
“Our main objective with this event was to educate students and hopefully teach them some information that was new to them,” Kong said. “In our presentation, we talked about a lot of different resources and services, all of which are available at Planned Parenthood, demonstrating how essential Planned Parenthood’s role is in serving the community’s sexual and reproductive health needs.”
Lopez-Wade added that there were many goals for this event.
“The goal of Pink Out and this event is to educate the community about Planned Parenthood, the services they offer, and to debunk all the gossip that conservatives have been spreading about Planned Parenthood to try and get them defunded,” said Lopez-Wade. “Planned Parenthood is a great organization that does so much more than give abortions. They are essential to our community and this nation.”
Miller has future plans beyond Pink Out Day to strengthen the relationship between Planned Parenthood and the student body.
“I hope to start a Planned Parenthood Chapter on campus this year in order to provide support for many of the groups on this campus fighting for reproductive justice,” Miller said. “I just want to let students know that I am here, and I want to support them with whatever they want to change on this campus during this school year. I have PP backing me, as I am an intern with them this year, and I want to take that added support and provide it for students on this campus.”