Planned Parenthood encourages students to become campus advocates

Erin Zaranec

The Kent State College Democrats and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kent State hosted a joint meeting about reproductive rights and the election cycle on Tuesday.

The meeting focused on providing students with information on how to get involved with advocacy work and participating in the fight for women’s rights in the 2016 election.

“Right now we’re doing everything we can to make sure (Planned Parenthood) wins in this election.” said Sarah Inskeep, the Regional Field Manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates for Ohio. “And as of now, that looks like Hillary Clinton.”

Planned Parenthood and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund formally endorsed Hillary Clinton in January 2016.

Inskeep, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati, worked with Planned Parenthood throughout her collegiate career and transitioned into a Planned Parenthood intern before landing her career with the organization. Her tasks included grassroots organizing to prevent the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood was at the forefront of political conversations in 2015 when the Center for Medical Progress released videos claiming the organization was illegally selling fetal tissue and organs from abortion procedures. Following the legal issues caused by these videos, Planned Parenthood was again in national headlines after a shooter targeted a Colorado Springs location in November 2015, killing a police officer and two civilians.

In February 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 294, prohibiting the state from contracting services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions, which would defund Ohio’s 20 Planned Parenthood locations from approximately $1.3 million in funding, according to Reuters. Only two of Ohio’s 20 locations perform abortion procedures, with all 20 providing abortion referral services.

The meeting provided students with a safe space to discuss reproductive rights, women’s health issues and general attitudes towards this election cycle.

“As a male, it’s not necessarily my fight because it’s not my body, but I still want to get involved because this is an issue that impacts my fellow female citizens,” said Brian DiPaolo, a senior history major and historian of the Kent State College Democrats. “If women can’t get proper care, there are societal effects such as unplanned pregnancies leaving more children in welfare and our schools getting strained as well.”

Currently, Planned Parenthood’s local grassroots efforts are focused on weekly door-to-door canvassing. Inskeep visits the homes of local residents distributing information about Planned Parenthood and the organization’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

“This is hard work. It’s not the sexy work when we have hundreds of people show up at state rallies. This is the work that matters, this is the work that changes people’s minds,” Inskeep said.

When speaking about advocacy work done on the Kent campus, most students agreed that Kent State is a campus allowing students to express free speech on issues.

“Kent State is definitely a protest-oriented campus. Students aren’t really afraid to speak their minds here,” said Hana Barkowicz, a junior public relations major and president of the Kent State College Democrats.

Students agreed that organizations like Black United Students, who often host peaceful protests on campus, help spark the campus conversation. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kent State hopes to achieve the same goal.

The student organization formed Spring 2016 and works to promote advocacy work for Planned Parenthood on Kent State’s campus. Students interested in participating in advocacy work through the organization can contact chapter president Maddie Newingham at [email protected].

The City of Kent has a Planned Parenthood location in downtown Kent on E. Main Street. On October 16, Planned Parenthood is honoring the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Erin Zaranec is the entertainment editor, contact her at [email protected].