Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Pro-Life group demonstrates on quad

Students gather to look at the pink crosses in the pro-life club’s display on Monday, April 1. Each of the 911 crosses signifies an abortion performed at Planned Parenthood each day. Photo by Emily Jacobson.

Representatives from Augustana’s pro-life group stood in the quad and passed out cards to students on Monday, April 1. With a display of pink crosses signifying the 911 abortions done everyday at Planned Parenthood, junior Logan Worrick and sophomore Emmy Sharaan handed out flyers to passing students with Illinois pro-life coordinator, Sarah Minnic.
According to Worrick, their objective is to start a dialogue between disagreeing students and investigate the information behind abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

Augustana’s pro-life club passed out cards urging students to act against Planned Parenthood on Monday, April 1. Photo by Thea Gonzales.

“It’s important to form a dialogue on this campus,” Worrick said. “There are unsafe practices at Planned Parenthood. There are very qualified health centers that provide more services for women. They’re held to higher standards and don’t have any foot in the political game.”
Dr. Lena Hann, professor of public health, worked with Planned Parenthood from 2008 to 2011. She argues that the group wasn’t effective in their approach. When asked, Hann said, the club could not provide references for their claims.
“I think that posting up on a sidewalk when people weren’t planning to encounter this and asking them questions is actually not creating a dialogue,” Hann said. “It’s actually removing their choice in participating in a dialogue.”

According to Hann, the purpose of a higher education instution like Augustana is to critically question and educate its students.  Through her research with abortion providers, Hann disagrees with the claim that their clinics are unsafe.
“Planned Parenthood is not unsafe. They’re regulated. If they weren’t regulated, then our government wouldn’t be going through so much trouble to defund them.” Hann said. “There is a ton of oversight from different entities that do health regulations, monitor how [Planned Parenthood] use their budgets, HIPAA, all these patient protection acts. I think that claims that Planned Parenthood is unsafe is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation, and the people who are sharing that misinformation really need to educate themselves.”
The Augustana pro-life club has partnered with Illinois Students for Life, a regional chapter of the national non-profit, Students for Life of America.
During its spring tour, the display of pink crosses and banners travels the country. Last month, Minnic visited 18 colleges to demonstrate for Students for Life of America. As the Illinois Coordinator of the Students for Life of America,  Minnic identifies as a “pro-life feminist.” She started a pro-life group years ago on her campus at St. Xavier’s before joining Students for Life of America.
“I am a pro-life feminist, and I have been a strong advocate for the rights of all human beings because I think that equality for human women begins at the moment of conception,” Minnic said. “I want to fight for all women, including those affected by abortion.”
For Sharaan, the goal of the display is to move dialogue to action through conversation with Augustana students.
“Our main mission here today is to get people to sign these postcards that are to get all Planned Parenthoods held to the same standard as other surgical centers,” Sharaan said. “I just think that most women are unaware of that Planned Parenthood is unsafe and that it isn’t necessary.”
For other students, the location of the demonstration – on the only sidewalk path from lower campus to the Gerber Center – made it difficult to engage without being confused or angry.
Students gather to look at the pink crosses in the pro-life club’s display on Monday, April 1. Each of the 911 crosses signifies an abortion performed at Planned Parenthood each day. Photo by Emily Jacobson.

“I feel like if they wanted to start a dialogue, they should have gone in a less confrontational way. That row of crosses with the posters in between with all those biased facts – it doesn’t seem conversational,” junior Willow Kornoski said. “It doesn’t seem like they were there for a dialogue. It seems like they were there for an argument.”
Some students like senior Cole Tiedje approached the organizers with questions and curiosity but found himself shut down.
“In my conversation with them, I think when I did want to ask them specific questions, they dodged them. They were unwilling to answer some simple questions,” Tiedje said. “I think a lot of pro-life people have a very strong tendency to go on the attack. Of course, they have those rights – we all do. But I do think it turns off some people who are genuinely curious or want to have that conversation.”
Although Minnic has seen her fair share of disagreements with students while visiting campuses, she said her target is to avoid political or religious arguments.
“Usually it’s very positive. I don’t play into the intersectional politics game. As pro-life people, we respect all life and whenever we encounter people, we try to be as compassionate as possible,” Minnic said. “Students for Life of America is a non-affiliated organization. We are not a religious organization, and we don’t make religious arguments because human rights transcends politics.”

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Pro-Life group demonstrates on quad