Cecile Richards visited Penn State this evening. President of the largest abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood, Richards joined Penn State faculty and community members on a panel discussion titled “Beyond Choice: Barriers to Healthcare in Our Communities.”
While the date and time of the event, February 22nd from 4:00-5:30 PM, was public information, the location of the panel discussion was not released. To obtain that information, interested attendees were required to RSVP online by giving their name, email address, phone number, and zip code. Wednesday night, attendees were then notified of the event location in the Assembly Room of the Nittany Lion Inn.
As both a contributor to The State Patriot and the Secretary of Penn State Students for Life, I was interested in attending the event. I RSVPed for the panel and was placed on the attendance list, but as soon as I showed my ID at the door, I was recognized and turned away for being pro-life. “You’re a leader of Students for Life. You have to leave,” I was told. Clearly, the RSVP list served as a means for Planned Parenthood Generation Action, the PSU club hosting the event, to keep dissenting opinions far away from Queen Richards.
Entering the event separately, other students who were SFL members and leaders were also restricted from attending the campus event. Earlier this morning, SFL was made aware of these discriminatory measures set against them via text message. Julia Messina, SFL Vice President, and another member, were both notified with the same message that they have been removed from the attendance list simply for being pro-life students.
The Student Faculty Senate confirmed this morning, after these texts were received, that this is a violation of university policy. However, since Planned Parenthood Generation Action was also working with Planned Parenthood Keystone, which is not a student group, community organizer Christine O’Donovan Zavada disagreed with the policy and refused to allow pro-life students to hear Richards speak.
Regular student members of SFL were also kept from entering the room, not just club officers, even though they had all registered in advance. Some were recognized upon arrival, while one was noticed shortly after being stamped for entry and was then asked to leave. One SFL member did manage to register and enter undetected as a pro-lifer, so she was able to provide us with details of the contents of the panel discussion.
Among a constant refrain of anti-American race-baiting, as well as a peculiar fixation on illegal aliens, was the general theme of an unsubstantiated urgency for student action at the panel. Cliché caricatures of what middle aged college professors think campus activists should look like regurgitated worn-out platitudes such as “If it’s not us, who? If not now, when? It’s time for us to take action.” No one, never, and please, for the sake of unborn children, family, and the heritage and greatness of this nation, don’t take any action.
Penn State SFL has no history of being disruptive on any campus events, nor did they intend to. The goal was simply to hear Richards speak and possibly ask some questions if they opened the floor. SFL had prepared seven questions meant for an honest discussion with Richards and the panel, but since these Penn State students, myself included, were not allowed to enter this campus event, hosted by a campus club, here they are:
1) In 2016, an Indiana law was signed that required women to both view ultrasound imaging of her baby and to hear her baby’s heart tone if it is audible at least 18 hours before an abortion. This would happen at the same time the mother would hear information required by informed consent laws. Planned Parenthood challenged this law. My question is, if this provides more comprehensive healthcare, why would Planned Parenthood be against this?
2) I know that Planned Parenthood is very involved in social justice issues, including those that involve the LGBTQ community, racial minorities, and those of different sexual orientation. However, planned parenthood continues to advocate for the ability of women to choose to abort a baby because he or she has tested positive for Down Syndrome. Does that not, in your opinion, go against the stated intent of Planned Parenthood to represent people from all range of abilities and from all backgrounds, since many babies with Down syndrome survive to adulthood and go on to lead happy lives?
(Note: references Indiana law, signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2016, that bans aborting a baby because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis of a possible disability. The law also says aborted babies’ remains must be cremated or buried. And, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a complaint recently on behalf of several abortion providers, including PP, seeking to block a state law that bans abortions “because an unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome.”)
3) If it comes down to a funding crisis in which federal funding is cut off due to the fact that Planned Parenthood performs abortions, would you chose to continue to provide abortions and lose funding, thus drastically reducing the care you can provide women in other areas, or would you chose to end your abortion services and continue to receive federal funding, possibly putting this money towards improving preventative care?
4) Do you acknowledge that the unborn baby, according to biologic criteria, is a living human? If not, why not, and do you think that question is important to the debate about abortion?
5) Planned Parenthood supporters often make the claim that abortion is only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. However, these numbers fail to account for the fact that patients often receive multiple services, and do not adequately reflect the percentage of clients, and especially the percent of pregnant women, visiting Planned Parenthood who receive abortions. Would you clarify what percent of pregnant women who visit Planned Parenthood in a year end up receiving an abortion or abortion-related services?
6) A 2015 article in the Washington Post notes that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms in-house, the vast majority of their clients are not in an age group in which mammograms are routinely prescribed, and that “less than 3 percent of the breast exams offered at Planned Parenthood resulted in mammography referrals.” Given these statistics, would it be fair to say that Planned Parenthood provides less comprehensive cancer screening than many Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers?
7) Federally Qualified Health Centers outnumber Planned Parenthoods 13:1. In 2013, Federally Qualified Health Centers served 21.1 million people while Planned Parenthood served only 2.8 million people. The Guttmacher Institute reports that there are 61 million women in the United States in their childbearing years. Even with the assumption that all patients at Planned Parenthood are women, Planned Parenthood is still serving less than 5% of women of reproductive age. Why do you think this is and do you think that federal funding could be better allocated to serve more people?
After being barred from entering the Assembly Room, SFL prepared the following video to share an account of what occurred:
SFL later returned to the Nittany Lion Inn to pass out information cards on Planned Parenthood to attendees exiting the event and others entering for the ticketed reception with Richards titled “Isn’t Choice Sweet: Celebrating 45 Years of Roe v. Wade.” The content of these information cards can be summarized as “we don’t need Planned Parenthood.”
Pregnant women need real options, care, love, and support, not the abortionist’s lies that leave mothers with dead children. And abortion providers do not need federal dollars, especially not profitable organizations like Planned Parenthood. This cleverly crafted lie that Planned Parenthood cares about women while destroying their children and leaving them heartbroken and scarred has caused more damage than we could fathom.
60 million lives have been lost since Roe v. Wade, and one third of them were killed in a Planned Parenthood clinic. Tens of millions of women now have to live with the pain of their abortion. No amount of free condoms, birth control pills, or STI treatment could possibly make up for this atrocity. This is a human rights issue, plain and simple. The unwillingness of people like Cecile Richards to even acknowledge the humanity of pre-born children shows how much of a farce her organization is. “Care. No Matter What.” is a façade.
Real, affordable care for pregnant women, their children, and new mothers can be found at Federally Qualified Health Centers, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and Pregnancy Resource Clinics across the country. For women at Penn State, there is help downtown at the Pregnancy Resource Clinic on Pugh Street. You are not alone.
Update: Although the student group, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, promoted and volunteered at the event, the funding and logistics was handled by the statewide chapter, Planned Parenthood Keystone. Because of this, the university stated that it does not have oversight over the event, regardless of the fact that all students were publicly invited to the campus event and pro-life students were restricted from entering based solely on their political beliefs. The actions taken by Planned Parenthood Keystone on Thursday were at least unethical, if not a violation of the civil right’s code, but the university maintains that it does not have oversight.