Whether it be out of curiosity, anger or in the spirit of discussion, students interacted with a large display at the Titan Walk at CSUF March 2 posing a question to the campus: “Do we need Planned Parenthood?”
“On campus, talking about abortion is obviously a very emotional topic,” said Camile Rodriguez, the California regional coordinator for Students for Life of America. “To just be that ear that somebody might need for somebody to listen to them, even if it’s somebody yelling at us or mad at us that we are there.”
Rodriguez spoke to students at their display and regardless of the various stances on healthcare and abortion, she said they just want to show support for women. Rodriguez recalls talking to a variety of students that day about their concerns and experiences.
As House Republicans work to “repeal and replace” Obamacare with their proposed healthcare plan, they proposed a freeze on funding for Planned Parenthood. The women’s health service has been around for over a century and offers healthcare to 2.5 million people in the U.S. each year.
CSUF Students for Life, an active anti-abortion club on campus, supports the alternative of Federally Qualified Health Centers. The club is a local chapter of the largest youth national anti-abortion organization, Students for Life of America.
Brooke Paz, communications student and president of CSUF Students for Life, said they work to help pregnant and parenting students get the resources they need through their support. They recently threw two baby showers, one for a pregnant CSUF student and one for new parents living in Long Beach.
Paz said they have 15 active members and around 150 people on their mailing list.
“We are here to offer actual practical resources and support for women. We are here to be a friend to them, to provide that shoulder–that sense of community– to know that they’re not alone and we’re going to support them during their pregnancy and afterwards.” Paz said. “We give them the reality–the fact that abortion causes harm to women.”
Students for Life directs students to pregnancy resource centers, counseling agencies and adoption centers, Paz said.
Paz and Rodriguez said in an email that they support Federally Qualified Health Centers because they are more prevalent throughout the country than Planned Parenthood, with 1300 facilities nationwide and they offer many health services. While federal funding is not allocated to pay for abortions, Students for Life believes that taxpayer dollars indirectly fund abortions for Planned Parenthood because the services are provided in the same facility.
CSUF health science professor Shana Charles supports Planned Parenthood from a public health perspective. Charles studied public policy and health services at UCLA, focusing on researching political issues surrounding health care.
“It’s really difficult to find anyone in the public health community, and I’m talking the thousands of people who belong to the American Public Health Association, which has existed for over a hundred years, who would say that Planned Parenthood isn’t a good organization. It’s really one of the long standing, premiere organizations and one of the only ones that focuses specifically on women’s health,” Charles said.
Charles said she supports Planned Parenthood because it provides a basis for women to get health care who cannot access it in different ways and in communities that can’t otherwise provide many facilities for women. She also said Planned Parenthood has offered confidentiality to women if they’ve been victims of domestic violence and don’t want to inform their spouse or family about receiving health services.
Students for Life believes that Planned Parenthood’s focus is much more tied to abortion than the organization lets on. Rodriguez found that Planned Parenthood’s objection to President Donald Trump’s proposal to continue their funding if they stopped offering abortions showed that the practice is a main component of the organization.
“Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is non-negotiable,” said executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dawn Laguens to the New York Times.
Charles said she views the defunding of Planned Parenthood as a way for the legislature to take away funding specifically aimed to women elsewhere. She thinks that setting aside Planned Parenthood because they practice abortions is a simplistic perspective that limits women’s choices.
Students for Life said feedback at CSUF has been positive for the students as long as they distinguish themselves from a different off-campus group that has previously “disgusted” students by posting gruesome fetal pictures around campus.
“Even people who disagree with us will end up saying ‘thank you’ because we promote this really positive message,” Paz said. “We just want to promote this message for love, for life and for women.”