Students join nationwide support for Planned Parenthood with Pink Out day
Hundred of students rallied on Mudd Field as part of a national “pink out” to support Planned Parenthood amid claims that the women’s healthcare and family planning service illegally sold fetal tissue and calls to pull its federal funding.
Attendees gathered Tuesday to listen to speeches from Missouri representative Stacey Newman and St. Louis Planned Parenthood President Mary Kogut during the local rally, hosted by Wash U Student Advocates for Reproductive Rights (WUSTARR).
The event, which was moved from Edison Courtyard outside the Danforth University Center to Mudd Field due to expensive student support, was intended to show the student body’s support for Planned Parenthood, WUSTARR organizers said. Though Planned Parenthood states that it does not use government funds for abortion programming, numerous campaigning politicians at the state and federal level have called for limiting its resources.
The group was overwhelmed by the support from the student body.
“There were some challenges, because we had so much student support on social media, which has been really encouraging and exciting,” junior Jessie Klugman, an executive member of WUSTARR, said.
Sophomore Elizabeth Levinson, WUSTARR co-president, dealt with some of the last-minute logistics herself.
“[Monday] we changed the venue to Mudd Field, which was really difficult, because you’re supposed to reserve it two weeks in advance, but they made an exception for us,” Levinson said.
She noted that the student response had been exciting, both on social media and in person, and said the rally was an attempt to display the widespread support Planned Parenthood has on campus.
“Although we do understand that at 1 p.m. people had classes, the amount of support we had from Wash. U. students [was] really amazing. Wash. U. often tries to take a neutral stance on political issues, but we really want to make it known to this University that they represent the student body, and the student body supports Planned Parenthood,” Levinson said.
Kogut spoke to the crowd about the videos that surfaced this summer that portrayed Planned Parenthood employees as selling aborted fetal parts. The day before the rally, Missouri concluded its investigation into Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that the organization was not selling fetal tissue.
Kogut said Planned Parenthood needed support to move beyond the scandal.
“This summer, we were totally blindsided by some deceitful, heavily edited videos that portrayed our care in a way that was false and misleading…Yesterday, the attorney general cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. People will still fight your access to healthcare, and we need you to be on the frontlines, raising your voices,” Kogut said.
Newman, who is involved with issues of women’s healthcare in the political sphere, noted the relevance of the day’s event in her speech.
“We need your help. You’re going to be hearing about this all through 2016,” Newman said.
Buses were ready at the bottom of the Brookings steps to take Newman and some Wash. U. students to the University of Missouri, which recently discontinued graduate student training at Planned Parenthood and barred a Planned Parenthood doctor from performing abortions at the Mizzou clinic, for another event.
“Things are worse with Mizzou because last week they just cut all ties with Planned Parenthood, so no doctors, social work students or anyone who does any sort of practicum at Planned Parenthood can get credit for it, and now there’s no training for abortion or any of those services. People are really enraged about it,” Klugman said.
Junior Julia Curbera, who attended the rally, was excited about participating in the national event to raise awareness about the impact of pulling Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.
“I think the rally and the national Pink Out campaign are important ways to get the message out that, underneath this misogynistic political circus, there are real men and women’s health and livelihood at stake when people talk about defunding Planned Parenthood,” Curbera said.
Klugman also noted that issues of women’s healthcare as advocated by Planned Parenthood are especially relevant on Wash. U.’s campus.
“Sometimes it feels like these aren’t always relevant issues on a college campus but just last week, the campus climate survey came out. Clearly sexual health and access to sexual health services are important to everyone our age and everyone on this campus,” Klugman said.
In addition to supporting Planned Parenthood through its constant political challenges, WUSTARR, only in its second semester, will continue its reproductive rights programming on campus. Klugman noted that the group is planning panel discussions for the current semester, including one to come a few weeks from now with a focus on sex education.