Progressive group hopes to persuade Manchin to support Planned Parenthood

The Marshall University progressive political group Students for Reproductive Justice hosted a table in the Memorial Student Center Monday with the goal of persuading students, faculty and staff to call West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and urge him to vote in favor of protecting women’s health and reproductive rights.

The table is part of a campaign the group calls “Manchin Mondays,” which will host a table in the Memorial Student Center every Monday for the for the remainder of the semester with the same goal of persuading individuals to contact Manchin, specifically urging him to support Planned Parenthood.

“We’re here to try and get people to call their senators, especially Manchin, to try and get him to vote for bills for women’s health and not to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Jennifer Parsons, a graduate student who volunteers for the organization.

Marshall senior Jada Williams is the president of Students for Reproductive Justice and said Manchin can play an important role when voting in Congress.

“We are trying to get students, faculty and staff to call Sen. Manchin and tell him to vote no on anything that would move towards defunding Planned Parenthood because he is very vital and key to any legislation dealing with Planned Parenthood,” Williams said.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has spoken out against Planned Parenthood in the past.

In the summer of 2015, Manchin voted to defund Planned Parenthood following the release of several edited undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue for medical research. In a statement released Aug. 3, 2015, Manchin said he would vote in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I am very troubled by the callous behavior of Planned Parenthood staff in recently released videos, which casually discuss the sale, possibly for profit, of fetal tissue after an abortion,” Manchin said. “Until these allegations have been answered and resolved, I do not believe that taxpayer money should be used to fund this organization; instead those funds should be sent to other healthcare providers, including community health centers, which provide important women’s health services.”

The edited videos Manchin was referring to were ultimately proven to be misleading and the vote to defund Planned Parenthood did not pass, however the concern is still there that tax dollars go towards funding abortions.

Williams said Planned Parenthood only uses tax dollars for women’s health services and not for performing abortions.

“People who say that tax dollars are going to abortions haven’t done their research because not one tax dollar goes towards funding abortions. On the the Planned Parenthood website, as well as anyone you talk to that backs Planned Parenthood, can tell you that they can say that with confidence,” Williams said. “It provides general healthcare and things that everyone needs. Without Planned Parenthood, people wouldn’t be able to get the services they need and they would go to alternative means which could end up being deadly.”

Students for Reproductive Justice will be having their next meeting March 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Women’s Center.

Adam Stephens can be contacted at [email protected]