By Hunter Simonson
Last Tuesday, supporters of Planned Parenthood gathered to show support for women’s reproductive rights. This comes as the organization battles against recent attempts by House representives to federally defund Planned Parenthood. The event, called Pink Out, was organized by Planned Parenthood’s North Dakota advocacy office.
“Pink Out is a national day of action,” Amy Jacobson, the state’s Manager of Advocacy and Development for Planned Parenthood said.
The organization hosted two rallies in the state, in Fargo and Bismarck.
Aside from the nationwide gatherings on Sept. 29, Planned Parenthood also provided free STI testing and delivered a petition of support to lawmakers, signed by more than 2.3 million people. Planned Parenthood sought to make Pink Out’s scope both intimately local and national.
Jacobson said Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights have been under a growing number of attacks from politicians. Congress has held four votes in four weeks to restrict women’s health care access, and almost forty votes so far this year.
“The public and the women and men that we serve are very much against these attacks,” Jacobson said. “We thought it was time to bring people in to stand up and show politicians that we aren’t going to take this any longer.”
The issue is personal for many marchers and supporters. Ali Wu, an NDSU student who took the helm at the march, is one of them.
“Planned Parenthood has benefited me by being a safe and available resource, not just personally,” Wu said. “It’s a resource I can use to guide classmates and colleagues who may not feel comfortable asking their parents for help or guidance.”
Pink Out’s participants gathered not only in support of a woman’s right to have an abortion, but also to illuminate the variety of services provided by Planned Parenthood.
Every year, the organization provides preventative reproductive care at no cost to 2.7 million women and men. This includes birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests and screenings and wellness exams. More than half of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in rural areas, meaning that often, Planned Parenthood is the only place patients can receive these services.
“Abortion services are less than 5 percent of what Planned Parenthood offers, but it’s the only service anybody latches onto,” Wu said.
Participants met at the Planned Parenthood advocacy center in downtown Fargo’s Block 6 building and marched up Broadway to the US Bank plaza. For Kelsie Bork, a computer science sophomore at MSUM, this was her first rally for the organization.
“The visual of everyone wearing pink was very effective,” Bork said. “When people see the photos on Facebook, they see that people need these services. Everyone was very confident and passionate in their support of Planned Parenthood.”
Ian Anderson, a Women and Gender Studies junior at MSUM, also attended Pink Out.
“It’s good to show that the people in this state do support Planned Parenthood and that we aren’t as anti-choice as our legislators often are,” Anderson said.
As criticism and opposition toward Planned Parenthood grows, locally and nationwide, events like Pink Out have drawn increasingly larger and more diverse crowds.
“It’s an organization that’s important for all ages and all intersections of identity,” Anderson said.
Wu agreed that Planned Parenthood is there for everyone.
“I truly believe that opposition to Planned Parenthood is due to a widespread lack of knowledge on the services that it offers,” Wu said.