“Pray to end abortion” signs can be seen being waved by protesters outside of Planned Parenthood on Lake Otis to or from campus. Abortion is a tough subject and many have different views on the matter: one by the individuals protesting the health center for family planning services, second by Planned Parenthood, and third from the views of women.
Recently, there has been a campaign by 40 Days For Life participating in the protest seen outside of Planned Parenthood. Patrick Martin, outreach and development director at Alaska Right To Life, gives an insight to how this movement was created.
David Bereit and Shawn Carney founded The 40 Days For Life in Virginia and Texas, which eventually inspired others in multiple states to take action.
“The founders were simply frustrated with their attempts to block the opening of a Planned Parenthood surgical abortion facility in their town,” Martin said. “After hours of praying, the founders each had the same answer to a prayer: Stand and pray outside of Planned Parenthood for 40 days.”
After many other states decided to participate, the members of Alaska Right to Life started coordinating and sponsoring the local campaigns. Alaska Right to Life is a nonprofit organization created to “protect all life, from conception to natural death.” This 40-day campaign takes place twice during the year, in the fall and in the spring.
“The message of 40 Days for Life, Alaska Right to Life, and all who participate in the campaigns and prayer vigils is simple, abortion kills an innocent human being and it must end,” Martin said. “All babies, at all stages of life and development have a right to life, and women deserve better than abortion.”
Members of Alaska Right to Life understand that many believe abortion is a right females have in Alaska, and other states in the US. They stress the most important issue is that the child dies in the process and believe that many abortions are happening in our home state.
“Abortion is often promoted as a ‘reproductive right’ and an ‘empowering choice’ that a woman makes to ‘end her pregnancy,’ but each of these label euphemistically ignores the child that died in the process,” Martin said. “Last year 597 high school and college age mothers ended their babies lives, many of those women are most likely students at UAA.”
Planned Parenthood is known for providing many services, which includes abortion. Katie Rogers, communications manager of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, communicates the importance of safety of staff and patients concerning the protesters.
“Nobody should have to face shaming, judgment, harassment or intimidation in order to get or provide health care,” Rogers said. “These protest are designed to shame and intimidate patients who seek health care services and information from Planned Parenthood including lifesaving cancer screenings, testing for HIV, treatment for [sexually transmitted infections], birth control and family planning.”
Men and women both go to Planned Parenthood to receive these services. Since there are a variety of services, it is impossible to assume the exact reason why an individual is going to the clinic. Jordan McGee, applied sciences student at UAA, stands with Planned Parenthood and has conducted her own research regarding abortions.
“I believe that protesters think that Planned Parenthood only provides abortion services, when in all honesty if you do your research, only 3 percent of people who come to Planned Parenthood get abortions, 41 percent for STI testing and treatment, and 34 percent come for contraceptives,” McGee said. “Protesters who stand outside of Planned Parenthood and shame women when they have no clue what their appointment is makes me sick.”
Planned Parenthood and Alaska Right to Life have two very different solutions to prevent abortions. One solution provides a way to keep reproductive rights for women while being able to prevent a pregnancy altogether, and the other controls those rights and involves the mother following through with having a child despite the situation of the mother.
“If these protesters were truly committed to reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, they would work with Planned Parenthood to increase access to affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education,” Rogers said.
On the other side of things, women encouraged to have the child and that there are services that are provided after having a child.
“We simply point them to the Community Pregnancy Center, just four doors away on Lake Otis, where all services are confidential, free, and tens of thousands of dollars worth of maternity, infant, and toddler clothes and food are shared with mothers who choose to parent their babies,” Martin said.
Many women fear that they are unfit to take care of a child and end up with an unwanted pregnancy. However, there are multiple reasons why women get abortions, and not only about finance issues for taking care of a child.
“There are a wide variety of reasons that women would get an abortion, it’s not always because women didn’t use birth control,” McGee said. “Babies could have serious birth defects, it could kill a women to carry the baby to term, rape or being unable to support a child, it all depends on the situation, and also it’s nobody’s business on why a woman is getting an abortion.”
Still, this is a touchy issue throughout society. Whether there should be a separation between the church and state, women still have their reproductive rights in Alaska. It is difficult to decide a concrete solution to a problem that many have different beliefs about. Alaska Right for Life shows their belief by protesting outside of Planned Parenthood during the 40 Days For Life campaign.