Pro-life students criticized a sorority-sponsored Planned Parenthood fundraiser and talk this past week. One student vandalized a poster advertising the event and two others hung posters around campus that read “let God plan parenthood.”
Members of Epsilon Delta Mu (EDM) and Zeta Alpha Phi (Zeta) sold Planned Parenthood stickers and pins in Peirce Dining Hall this past week. The fundraiser, which raised over $200, culminated in a Feb. 14 talk about sexual health by a Planned Parenthood educator. Following the pushback, a representative from Planned Parenthood asked Campus Safety officers to attend the event due to concern for the speaker’s safety.
“The event is just about STIs [Sexually Transmitted Infections], consent, general sexual health, birth control,” EDM Women’s Outreach Chair Rachel Arens ’18 said. “We were never planning on talking about abortion. That was never advertised.”
Arens found the vandalized poster in a Peirce trash can on Saturday morning. A student had written “and the 8,015,000 babies murdered since the 1970s” on the poster.
As of Feb. 15, numberofabortions.com, a pro-life website dedicated to counting the number of abortions performed worldwide, reported that Planned Parenthood has performed 8,018,486 abortions since Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court case that affirmed the legality of abortions. This number is based on an analysis of Parent Parenthood annual reports since the 1970s, according to the website.
Nicole Evans, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said she did not know the exact number of abortions Planned Parenthood has performed since Roe v. Wade.
“There’s no need to respond to someone’s hate and vandalism,” Evans said. “Planned Parenthood stands by ensuring that women, men and young people have access to reproductive health care and health education, which includes the right to safe, legal abortion.”
The male sophomore student who vandalized the poster said he did so out of anger and frustration. (He agreed to speak to the Collegian under the condition that he only be identified by his gender and class year.) Shortly after he wrote it on Saturday night, he said he regretted it; minutes later, he ripped his writing off of the poster and threw this section in the trash. Neither Arens nor the student know who threw away the entire poster.
“I felt so bad that I turned back around and tore what I had written out so that nobody would see it and threw that part away,” the student said in an interview. “I made sure the poster was still hanging when I left.”
While he regrets the way he expressed himself, he stands by the sentiment. “You can’t make a logically consistent argument about human rights without talking about infant rights,” he said. He said he feels the dialogue about abortion at Kenyon is significantly one-sided.
When Arens found the vandalized poster, she sent out an email to the campus. “Planned Parenthood does much more than perform abortions,” she wrote in the Feb. 11 message. “It provides cancer screenings, STI testing, family planning and sexual education for all. STI screening and treatment makes up 42 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides, with abortions being only 3 percent.”
The anonymous student criticized this perspective. “If they don’t want to engage with the abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood, that’s when I say that you’re being willfully ignorant,” the student said. “They do perform abortions.”
Phu Duong ’21 and Sam Turecki ’21 put up the “Let God plan parenthood” posters on Saturday night, unaware that someone had written on the EDM-Zeta poster. Duong and Turecki said they spent all night hanging up the posters — more than 50 total — only to have other students immediately take them down.
“We wanted to spark a conversation on campus, but the conversation wasn’t able to happen because they were torn down so quickly,” Duong said.
Duong and Turecki put the posters around Farr Hall, Olin and Chalmers Libraries, Gund Commons and Peirce Dining Hall. Though they tried to replace the posters when students took them down, Duong and Turecki found it was an impossible feat. Within ten hours, all of the posters were gone.
“We ran around for hours,” Duong said. “Just to see everything go to waste and the campus not even see it was so disappointing.”
Gabriella Must ’20, Paola Liendo ’20 and Kara Morrison ’20 tore down four of the posters in Gund Commons around 11:15 p.m. on Saturday night.
“We were immediately enraged,” Must said. “It’s not even that Planned Parenthood provides other services. We all know the stats. We don’t need to justify it. Abortion, on demand, without apology.”
Later that evening, when Liendo, Must and Morrison passed through Gund Commons again, they saw more posters hanging on the wall.
“We passed back through an hour later and they had doubled how many posters they’d had,” Liendo said. “There were 8-10, waiting there.”
Abigail Saltzman ’20, who is the president of EDM and planned the event, said she was struck by the anonymity of both responses.
“I think it’s so interesting because we’ve had all this talk about discourse and what’s the right way to talk about issues and controversial opinions,” Saltzman said. “The thing that struck me most about all of this was that whoever vandalized the poster, whoever put up the posters afterwards, none of them were signing their name to it. None of them wanted to have a conversation about it.”