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Voicing Opinions: Planned Parenthood

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The attendees of Planned Parenthood's "A Day of Action" gather on the steps of the capital building for a group photo.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood gathered on Oct. 17 in the Lansing Center for the organization’s “A Day of Action,” which entailed introductions, breakout sessions, lunch with legislators, a march, a rally, and lobby visits to legislators if participants chose to do so. This day was designed to unite and educate allies of Planned Parenthood on how to successfully lobby to protect the organization from recent criticism.

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that has been operating since 1916. It works to provide affordable reproductive healthcare as well as sex education for both men and women. Every year, Planned Parenthood provides two million patients with birth control; provides 4.2 million STD screenings; 631,000 cancer screenings such as breast exams and pap tests; and 1.5 million people with education and outreach. However Planned Parenthood also provides 323,000 abortions each year, which has brought it under fire by many pro-life activists, though abortions make up just three percent of Planned Parenthood services.

H.R.354, a bill introduced on Jan. 6 2017, would prohibit the availability of federal funds to Planned Parenthood unless they certify that their clinics will not perform abortions or provide funds to any other entity that performs abortions — except in the case of rape, incest, or a physical condition in which the woman’s life is in danger unless an abortion is performed. In response, there have been many rallies, movements, and protests to block this bill and continue the funding to the health centers.

According to Advocates for Youth, abstinence-only education is proven to be non-effective in their goal to keep teens from engaging in sexual activity or reducing teen pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood has prevented an estimated 579,000 unintended pregnancies per year through their actions and education they provide to youth. Many of these educational programs are taught to high schoolers by peer-educators of the same age, making them key people within their community to whom students can reach out.

“I stand with Planned Parenthood because it stands for what is right,” said Sabina Fall, a CHS senior and Planned Parenthood peer-educator, “It stands for helping everyone, no matter their beliefs or sex or economic status. I stand with them because they are making a difference in the world for the better, and I can’t imagine my life without peer ed and without all of the lessons and knowledge I have gained from Planned Parenthood.”

The hundreds who attended this Day of Action regathered after breakout sessions to march from the Lansing Center to the steps of the Capitol Building in public defense of Planned Parenthood. They were met by a smaller group of counter-protesters organized by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, who were against abortion and for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

A sea of pink flowed down the sidewalks as Planned Parenthood supporters in matching shirts chanted “My body, My choice” as well as “Women’s rights are human rights,” while carrying signs reading “Hands off my birth control,” “I stand with PP,” ”Don’t monkey with Planned Parenthood,” “Don’t take away our care,” and more.

The group reunited at the base of the steps of the Capitol Building, where Senator Rebecca Warren gave a speech. “I know that we collectively have the power and the passion to protect each other, to protect our friends, to protect our sisters, to protect our neighbors. We have the power,” Warren said.

After Warren’s speech ended, the group went in two directions: back to the Lansing Center to participate in another breakout session and into the Capitol Building to lobby to politicians.
“I am post-abortive, I had two abortions when I was young, I was pressured by each boyfriend, the pain doesn’t go away. It took me 21 years, a couple of months ago, to forgive myself,” said Andrea Rofe. Rofe was a participant in the Citizens for a Pro-Life Society counter-rally. After Rofe’s abortions, she entered a very self-destructive state: she became very depressed, had suicidal thoughts, and was binge drinking. Even in cases of rape, Rofe feels as though abortion is not the answer, as the women then have to deal with not one trauma but two.

Among personal experience, religion was a common reason the counter protesters did not support Planned Parenthood. “Planned Parenthood wants to make the discussion about contraception not abortion, but really they have an anti-God, anti-child mentality, where Christians and people that believe in God believe that men are created in the image of God, therefore that’s a holy thing and we should protect life,” said Davis Zastrow. “God says you shall not kill, because we’re made in God’s image. When we rebel against that, we ask for trouble, we defy God’s image.”

Amy Esper, a self-described feminist, feels as though Planned Parenthood has hijacked the feminist movement. “It’s not an arm of the government with welfare. It’s a retailer of abortion and I don’t think taxpayers need to pay for that. It’s a company like any other company in the United States,” Esper said. “My money should go where I would like it to go, not where they want it, because I don’t believe in abortion.”

Sen. Warren spoke to the importance of the elections in the years to come. She urged supporters to give any time they can to campaign efforts and volunteering at Planned Parenthood. “We are not going to change the hearts and minds of some of these anti-choice politicians who think it’s their place to meddle in some of the most personal, private and important decisions that we ever make. We can’t change their hearts and minds, but we can change their faces.”

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