Feb 202012
 
Authors: Bailey Constas

Abby Johnson had worked as a director at Planned Parenthood for eight years before the day in 2009 when she witnessed and assisted in an ultra sound–guided abortion. Since then, after walking away from her job, she has been a renowned pro-life activist who speaks openly about her experiences.

“She knows what goes on at Planned Parenthood,” said Jessica George, the president of Students for Life, the organization who decided to bring Johnson to CSU. “Since they (Planned Parenthood) have a strong presence on our campus, we thought we should bring someone who has a different view on Planned Parenthood so college students have the opportunity to see both sides of the story.”

Johnson is set to speak in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom on Tuesday at 7 p.m. And while she is a pro-life activist, George said Johnson’s speaking engagement is not just meant for those who agree with her beliefs.

“It’s obviously a controversial issue, especially now with contraception and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. There’s probably going to be people from both sides,” George said. “There will probably be a lot of opportunity for debate. I think it should be educational for anyone.”

The event will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience, promoting room for debate.

Meagan Como, president of Students United for Reproductive Justice, or SURJ, said her organization teaches students about safe sexual health care.

“We strive to promote comprehensive sexual health education (i.e. education that teaches and supports abstinence as well as pregnancy and disease prevention), sexual health care, policies that support women and their families and to get students talking (or taking action) on these subjects,” Como said in an email to the Collegian.

According to Como, SURJ stands with Planned Parenthood and the services that it provides.

“Nationally, only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood services are related to abortion care, demonstrating that their focus is on prevention services that help women and their families stay healthy.”

According to Como, these services include life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, sexual health education and pap tests.

“It is important that people are reminded of this,” Como said. “Birth control and sexual health education help reduce the need for abortion. With one in five women having visited a Planned Parenthood health center, yes, SURJ sees the need to support the organization.”

According to Como, SURJ believes it is important for people to educate themselves on sexual health and form their own opinions.

“One of SURJ’s goals is to get people talking about sexual health,” she added.

But Como doesn’t agree with the stance Johnson has on Planned Parenthood.

“Unfortunately, Johnson has made false and misleading claims against Planned Parenthood,” Como said. “Every day Planned Parenthood works to help women and families plan healthy pregnancies and prevent unintended pregnancies.”

Courtenay Daum, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science said abortion has been a controversial right for decades, made legal through various Supreme Court decisions.

“In Roe vs. Wade in 1973, the court identified the right to privacy in the constitution that they believed encompassed a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy,” Daum said. “It’s never been an absolute right; it’s always been a qualified right, subject to some regulations,” she added.

According to Daum, the court has always balanced the idea of abortion between a woman’s right and the state’s interest.

“What’s changed over the past 40 years is that, over time, the Supreme Court has been given more latitude to states in regulating abortion; [there’s] more weight to states’ interest. And so I think that’s the biggest change over time.”

“Legally, there’s a whole other set of concerns. In Roe vs. Wade there’s a right for privacy and abortion, legally and politically, that’s incredibly controversial,” Daum said. “There’s no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. The justices said they found a right to privacy in the shadows of the constitution.”

But Daum said this right to privacy is what helps spark some of the controversy.

“And then the mechanism that the court used to find the abortion right has caused a lot of people to be skeptical that poured fuel on the fire to make the issue legally and politically a hot mess,” Daum said. “That should be a legal term: hot mess.”

Collegian writer Bailey Constas can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Abby Johnson: An inside look at Planned Parenthood
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m.
Lory Student Center, Main Ballroom

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