Planned Parenthood protestors, supporters move fight to social media

Pro-Life supporters lined the crosswalk over I-35 by campus today with Pro-Life banners, posters and shirts to raise awareness about abortion. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

By Emma King, Staff Writer

In light of congressional debate and the subsequent creation of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, the nationwide discussion about abortion rights continues to thrive, both around campus and on social media.

Just off of Baylor’s campus, a group of pro-life activists took the reins last week as they covered the walking bridge over Interstate 35 with signs supporting the bill’s suggested cut in Planned Parenthood funding.

Also in response to the bill, multiple Twitter hashtags have surfaced that are still gaining mentions by the hour, both for and against the idea of stopping Planned Parenthood.

The problem is that Planned Parenthood has been accused of allegedly selling aborted baby parts for profit. The institution responded by saying they only receive compensation for costs related to transport.

Of course, that information would not be found in their annual financial report, which exhibits the number of other services the organization offers, like testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, access to contraception and cancer screenings. According to their 2013 data, abortion only accounts for three percent of their services performed.

Nonetheless, that three percent has politicians and activists up in arms.

President of Baylor’s Bears for Life Cristina Kenigsberg said that the I-35 protest was the work of Pro-Life Waco, an organization that partners with Bears for Life.

“We haven’t done anything super dramatic on campus lately, but we’re definitely completely for life,” Kenigsberg said. “We think that the work that Pro-Life Waco is doing is good.”

One of Pro-Life Waco’s signs on the bridge featured #PPsellsbodyparts, a Twitter hashtag that supports cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Another popular hashtag, on the opposite side of the issue, is #standwithPP.

“We are wholeheartedly against abortion and so in that sense we would be grateful if Planned Parenthood got defunded. We’re not against women’s health,” Kenigsberg said. “We want funding going toward what we believe is true women’s health and not abortion.”

Protests on Twitter with #shoutyourabortion continue to advocate for women’s health that includes access to abortions, however.

Lindy West and Amelia Bonow, writers from Seattle, co-founded the #shoutyourabortion campaign when Bonow decided that having an abortion was not something to whisper about, especially because she claims that she does not regret hers at all.

To counter that campaign, other Twitter users have been using #shoutyourmurder, to argue that a fetus is a child, or #shoutyouradoption, to advocate for adoption over abortion.

However, Abilene junior Rebecca Farrar, former vice president of Baylor Democrats, said she agrees with the pro-choice hashtag. She said she doesn’t think a woman should be ashamed for choosing an abortion, or for not choosing one.

“I simply believe that as a human being we have the right to choose what happens with our own body…” Farrar said. “Any campaign that’s going to support or glorify the empowerment that comes from making your own decisions and choosing your future, your path in life, I’m going to be all for.”

Farrar said the arguments between pro-lifers and pro-choicers do not have direct oppositions to one another. She said a pro-life opinion is usually that abortion is wrong, while pro-choice is recognizing that abortion is a reality.

“The reproductive issues or that particular conversation isn’t just a political platform, or something to be thrown under the rug,” Farrar said. “It is one of the single most important factors for women’s advancement in society.”

Farrar said it is more than just a religious argument and that the government has no grounds to take funding from Planned Parenthood, from a political or moral standpoint. She said she encourages people to look at past supreme court decisions and referenced the O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” said Farrar, quoting a clause from the case.

This particular mystery of human life has reached the point of a national debate on affordable access to termination of human life and the well-being and independence of women. At this point, the mystery remains and the end of this argument is not yet in sight.