As Congress and Americans debate the future of Planned Parenthood and its federal funding, some Harvard students and area residents weighed in, donning pink and canvassing in Harvard Square in support of the organization on Tuesday night.
Planned Parenthood, which among many other women’s health services provides abortions, has come under fire in recent months after videos surfaced purporting to show organization officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue for a profit, which is illegal.
Planned Parenthood officials have denied the practice, maintaining that the video was heavily edited to mislead, the group continues to face criticism, with Republicans in Congress threatening to pull its federal funding.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and supporters of the group wore pink clothing and posted on social media as part of a national “Pink Out Day” campaign.
At Harvard, students joined in, on Facebook and in person. Following efforts to collect signatures of support for the group, campaign participants—who hailed from Harvard, Wellesley, Brandeis, and the Cambridge area—gathered in Adams House for a presentation by Planned Parenthood patients and speakers who argued for protecting the non-profit healthcare provider. The Harvard College Democrats and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts organized the two-part event.
“With all the negative publicity surrounding Planned Parenthood, we thought it was really important to show our support and to show that this is really important to a lot of people in that all the plans to defund it would really negatively impact a whole community of people,” said Susan X. Wang ’17, vice president of the Harvard College Democrats.
Kanisha Hans, a speaker, said the organization provided her access to reproductive health resources as a young adult. She was enthusiastic about Tuesday’s turnout.
“It’s very reassuring to see such a big crowd like this, especially seeing so many young people,” Hans said.
Jacob R. Carrel ’16, president of the Harvard College Democrats, argued that it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood could lose resources because of the political battle playing out in Washington. He and others involved with the event stressed that the organization provides services beyond abortion and other means of birth control.
Brianna J. Suslovic ’16, a Crimson columnist who also spoke at the event, argued that it is necessary to maintain both a cultural and political conversation in legislatures and among the public on the issue.
“I think that upon leaving this event the challenge is to keep people motivated and to keep people talking,” Suslovic said.