Campus organizations pink out to support Planned Parenthood amidst congressional threat to funding

While funding for Planned Parenthood hangs in the balance in Congress, Marshall University students showed their support for the organization by participating in national Pink Out Day on Tuesday.

More than 90 cities nationwide participated in this effort to defend reproductive healthcare services on the same day that Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards, appeared in front of Congress to defend the embattled organization.

Conservative opponents of Planned Parenthood threaten to vote to shut down the federal government on Wednesday if the $450 million of annual federal funding to the organization isn’t ceased.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood at Marshall engaged with other students at the Memorial Student Center about the mission of the organization and to clarify any misconceptions people may have.

Psy.D. Candidate and Women’s Studies GA, Sarah Reynolds, donned her pink in support of the organization that she said is essential to the health of women and men across the country.

“I support Planned Parenthood because I think all women should have access to affordable health care, regardless of health insurance,” Reynolds said. “Planned Parenthood provides services such as pregnancy testing, treatment of STDs, birth control, cancer screenings and sex and LGBT education. They also provide several services for men. Reproductive health care is so important and all Americans should have access to these services.”

Though Planned Parenthood cannot allocate federal funds to be used for abortions, the congressional battle to defund its services has been heated and emotional. Undercover videos regarding the ethics of the organization’s practices have been at the forefront of Republicans’ criticism.

“I support Planned Parenthood because I think all women should have access to affordable health care, regardless of health insurance.””

— Sarah Reynolds

Despite the controversy junior Political Science major, Sophia Mills, said she hopes people educate themselves about the implication of defunding these services.

“I think it’s really important to be involved in politics, especially locally, because organizing gets people educated,” Mills said. “There might be communities where there aren’t other places and where Planned Parenthood is that place to go to have access to preventative screening, cancer screening, mammograms and other preventative treatments. For people in poverty, for people in rural communities, for people who don’t drive or have transportation easily, that Planned Parenthood might be the difference between life and death for someone in those communities.”

Mills said she thinks that the Planned Parenthood controversy has been politicized.

“Planned Parenthood is really demonized,” Mills said. “I think it’s because of the abortion issue, but I also think it’s because a lot of conservative politician with conservative bases use this as a wedge issue to get people to rally around them who have that far right wing ideologies.”

Both sides of the political spectrum took this opportunity to jump social media in support or opposition Planned Parenthood.

Democratic White House hopeful, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were among those to “pink out” their Twitter avatars. Tuesday Sander tweeted, “I #StandWithPP. These attacks come from those who simply don’t believe women have a right to control their own bodies. I disagree. #PinkOut.”

Abortion opponent and Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, tore into the organization, tweeting, “#PlannedParenthood performs 327,000 abortions per year. Sorry, Cecile Richards this is NOT healthcare.”

Richards, who was grilled by Democrats and Republics alike at Tuesday hearing, expressed her disapproval that it intense the battle has been.

“It’s a shame to think that there are people in this country that are so committed to ending women’s access to birth control and legal abortion that they’ll really resort to any means to entrap people, twist the truth to reach there ends,” Richards said. “But we believe, and it’s why I’m here voluntarily today, the fact are on our side. We are proud of the healthcare we deliver every single year despite animosity by some, and we’re grateful that the American people stand with Planned Parenthood.

A poll published on Monday by the Wall Street Journal, shows that 61 percent of Americans oppose defunding Planned Parenthood while 35 percent support the defunding. The poll showed also showed that this is a partisan issue, with 55 percent of Republican and 19 percent of Democrats supporting the cutoff.

Congress has until Wednesday, Sept. 30, a deadline being used to leverage the defunding, to pass a spending bill or there will be a government shutdown.

Rob Engle can be contacted a [email protected].