Following MU Decision Last Week, Hundreds Gather in Support of Planned Parenthood
On the heels of a decision made last Thursday that could leave Columbia - once again - without a doctor able to perform abortions, about 1000 people gathered on the University of Missouri campus Tuesday to voice their support of Planned Parenthood.
Speakers at the event ranged from a religious leader, to politicians, to MU graduate students and Planned Parenthood leadership. This event was a part of a national “Pink Out Day” and similar events were being held around the country.
Many of those who spoke and many of those who gathered in support of Planned Parenthood at Speaker’s Circle expressed discontent with the decision made last Thursday by MU Health Care. This decision eliminated the clinical privileges that allow the Columbia Planned Parenthood doctor to perform abortions.
For more information on the specifics of MU Health Care’s decision, please see KBIA’s previous reporting.
Laure McQuade, the President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the Columbia community is upset by the recent decisions made by MU.
“The University is such an anchor in this community,” McQuade said. “It means so much to the members of the Columbia community. And to be let down and to be so shamelessly be thrown under the political bus by the university that they so respect and love I think is just - it really drew people here today.”:
LcQuade said the Columbia Planned Parenthood has several demands for the University. These include: its provider’s privileges reinstated, contracts with the medical and nursing schools to be restored and for a public apology for “their behavior.”
"They hurt the women of this community. They hurt the men of this community who seek services."
“We're here to tell them that they didn’t just hurt Planned Parenthood, they hurt the women of this community,” LcQuade said. “They hurt the men of this community who seek services.”
McQuade said the Columbia Planned Parenthood is currently examining its options. They are doing “everything in our power” to secure new privileges for their provider through either Boone County Hospital, MU Health Care or both before the December 1 deadline.
She also said the clinic is looking at submitting a complaint to the Federal Department of Health and Senior Services, but has no ability to sue the University over its decision at this time.
One family – a mother and brother pair were at the event in support of their daughter and sister who was raped in Columbia several years ago. They said the Columbia Planned Parenthood assisted her at a “really critical time.”
Kevin, the brother, said Planned Parenthood is an important resource in the community.
“I think there’s a lot `of stigma for young women who do get pregnant or need contraception and are sexual active,” He said. “There's really nowhere else for them to go if Planned Parenthood is defunded and that resource isn’t available.”
Corinne Mann was another supporter at the rally. She was there with her 1 month old daughter, Alayna. Mann said it’s important to support women’s choices.
She added that she is a recent graduate of the social work school at MU and she was disappointed by the University’s decision to not only remove the clinic doctor’s privileges, but also to sever ties between the school of social work and Planned Parenthood.
“It just makes for less practical experiences,” Mann said. “That was a big way that people were able to learn how the legislative process works. We were able to get experience lobbying and doing things like that. Other opportunities like that are limited when it comes to social work. I think it will be really detrimental.”
Lana Coggeshall was also at the rally in support of Planned Parenthood, but she didn’t come alone. She brought with her two children who are 11 and 8. She said she wants them both to be part of the conversation around Planned Parenthood.
“My mom was active for me in the 70s and I want to be active for my daughter now so that in the future she can her choices and have the right to choose her own way through the health care system,” Coggeshall said.
She also said she was depressed to hear of the University’s decision made last week because Planned Parenthood is crucial to the health of the community.
Not everyone at the event was there in support of Planned Parenthood. A handful of counter protesters held signs expressing Pro-Life messages. One of these students was Chris Vas, who is a member of the Young Republicans and the Missouri Students for Life.
“We’re just showing that there are students on this campus who respect life and stand up for life,” Vas said. “And we stood with the university with their latest decisions to cut some ties with Planned Parenthood.”
There was some passive confrontation between the Pro-Life counter protesters and those gathered in support of Planned Parenthood. When one of the counter protestors would move to have their sign visible - groups of supporters would follow them, stand around them and block the view of the counter protester signs with their own signs.