By ABBY BIESMAN
News & Features Editor
Hopkins Voice for Life (VFL), a pro-life organization, presented a display against Planned Parenthood on the Gilman Quad with the goal of spreading pro-life ideas on campus. The display lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. last Thursday, Oct. 22.
The Planned Parenthood Project display that VFL hosted is provided by Students for Life of America, a non-profit organization that helps students on college campuses advocate what VFL Co-President senior Jessica Janneck deems “the culture of life”. Students for Life of America is a pro-life organization, which not only addresses abortion, but also euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and other issues. The organization does not have chapters of students.
The Planned Parenthood Project has been offered by Students for Life of America for a few years, before controversies around Planned Parenthood arose in 2015.
Janneck discussed the reason Hopkins Voice for Life hosted The Planned Parenthood Project display.
“The display event, provided by Students for Life of America, allowed us to invite the Hopkins community on the Homewood campus to discuss life issues and to raise awareness of life-affirming options,” Janneck wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
On Thursday, infographics and display pieces were paired with information about local health clinics and pregnancy centers along with information about the Pregnant on Campus initiative. Pregnant on Campus is an initiative fueled by Students for Life that creates a platform to help provide resources for pregnant students.
At the display there were 897 pink crosses stacked on the ground. The crosses represent the average of 897 abortions performed by Planned Parenthood each day.
“Of the abortions done in the United States a day, 1 in 4 are done by Planned Parenthood, making them the nation’s largest abortion provider,” Janneck wrote.
Janneck discussed student reception to the displays, saying the group had 40 in-depth discussions with students during the event.
“One particular conversation lasted for about one hour and we have received some follow-up emails regarding the display,” Janneck wrote. “We also had a resource table with 12 different pamphlets and a double-sided local resource list where many students stopped by to pick-up information.”
With the exception of some people who would make anti-abortion comments, Janneck felt that the display invited respectful discussion about the issue.
Among other scheduled events, VFL will host a Diaper and Baby Supplies drive for Pregnancy Center North, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit medical clinic.
“We hosted this display to raise awareness of who Planned Parenthood is (using their 2013-2014 Annual Report, which is their last publicly released report) and to invite the Homewood campus to open, honest discussion on life issues,” Janneck wrote. “We believe that Hopkins students who become pregnant should not have to choose between their pre-born babies and their education.”
VFL says that pregnantatjhu.org offers resources for pregnant women at Hopkins, including an anonymous online chat with Hopkins student counselors and a 24-hour hotline, among other resources.
“We acknowledge that being a student-parent is difficult,” Janneck wrote. “We are here to help and support pregnant and parenting students as much as we can from the pregnancy test, to birth and beyond.”
Janneck became active with VFL during her sophomore spring when she served as the Pregnancy Resources Coordinator, working on implementing their Pregnant on Campus Initiative and helping to create a supportive community for pregnant students at Hopkins.
“I strongly believe in standing up for what you believe in, especially when there are lives at stake,” Janneck wrote. “I especially like that Voice for Life supports pregnant and parenting students and local families through providing resources, emotional support, volunteering time, and hosting diaper/baby supplies drives.”
Voice For Choice (VFC) shared their reaction to the VFL display, discussing ways that they thought the display was misleading. The color of their displays, according to VFC, used Planned Parenthood’s well-known shade of pink. The displays also had “Planned Parenthood” written in large font and “Project” in smaller font. Voice for Choice shared a statement with The News-Letter.
“This attempt to deceive Hopkins students is incredibly disrespectful and inappropriate,” the statement said. “Voice For Choice will soon be hosting a Planned Parenthood representative on campus to provide Hopkins’ students with facts about Planned Parenthood and sexual health.”
One of the claims the display makes is that “Planned Parenthood encourages a daily regimen of hormonal birth control, which have dangerous side effects such as increased risk of cancer and even death.”
“Hormonal birth control can increase the risk of cancer in women with family histories of cancer. However, although hormonal birth control increases the risk of some cancers, it also decreases the risk of uterine cancer,” the statement says. “Hormonal birth control is also a critical treatment for many painful and debilitating menstrual disorders. Further, hormonal birth control plays a role in reducing unplanned pregnancies.”
The display also claims that 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services were abortions in 2013. However, that number is only a percent of specific services. This 94 percent is only reached if one adds abortions with adoption referrals and prenatal services and then takes abortions over this total. Planned Parenthood also performs other pregnancy services like providing contraception.
Some argue that Planned Parenthood exists not for abortions, but to help people make decisions when they are pregnant, abortion being one of those choices. Senior Mellora Ansbro commented on the importance of their free speech, regardless of any political views or notions, so long as protests are conducted in safe and respectful ways.
“I do have to say I very much am pro-them being allowed to demonstrate their opinions,” Ansbro said. “As much as I disagree, I’m going to support their right to say it.”
Senior Chrissy Schnabel shares a similar opinion and discussed the benefits of having these resources on campus. She believes they went about portraying their message appropriately by providing resources or a solution to what they envisioned as the problem at hand, rather than simply protesting Planned Parenthood.
Correction: The article previously stated that there were 897 pink crosses at the display to represent the number of abortions performed in the U.S. each day. However, the crosses represent the 897 abortions performed by Planned Parenthood each day. Additional clarifications have been made to better explain the intended purpose of the event.