Abortion debate hits Diag

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Public Policy junior Carly Manes speaks to Engineering sophomore Samantha Rahmani during a Diag debate on abortion rights Wednesday. Buy this photo

By Hillary Crawford, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 18, 2013

The two sides of the debate on abortion rights were clear on the Diag Wednesday as groups staged dueling demonstrations.

The University's chapter of Students for Life set up 915 pink crosses in front of the flag post, along with large pink signs explaining each cross represents the number of abortions that, according to the Planned Parenthood Project, are performed in America by Planned Parenthood each day.

The Planned Parenthood Project is not affiliated with the Planned Parenthood network of healthcare clinics. Rather, the project is a touring group sponsored by Students for Life of America that criticizes the organization, which is a major provider of abortions in the United States.

The University is one of 41 stops for the project. The 18,041-mile tour encompasses campuses in 20 states over an eight-week period.

LSA sophomore Amanda Salvi, Students for Life’s publicity chair, claimed that many people are misinformed about Planned Parenthood.

“In a recent survey, 55 percent of Americans did not know that Planned Parenthood commits abortion,” Salvi said, in reference to a poll performed by the Students for Life organization. “Since it’s such a controversial issue, not many people talk about it, let alone know about it, so we’re here to stir some conversation.”

Members of the University's chapter of Students for Choice were present to provide Planned Parenthood’s side of the story.

LSA senior Sydney Gallup, a Students for Choice chair member, said after hearing about a similar demonstration performed by Students for Life Tuesday at Eastern Michigan University, her group wanted to provide counterclaims to the information the Planned Parenthood Project distributed on the Diag.

“They hand out false information that really paints Planned Parenthood in a horrible light,” Gallup said. “We’re trying to get the truth out there, answer any questions people have and show support for people who support choice.”

The two competing demonstrations succeeded in sparking conversation. Students, both those with an opinion on the issues and those who were unsure, passed through and spoke to members from both organizations.

Education graduate student Griffin Pepper said he moved to Michigan from Washington D.C., where he saw peaceful protests outside of Planned Parenthood every day. He said the event on the Diag seemed like a respectful discussion.

“I tend to lean left and think Planned Parenthood does a lot of wonderful things for young women in this country by providing low cost medical care for those who can't necessarily afford it,” Pepper said. “I don't think anyone should decide medical care for anyone else, except the patient and the doctor.”

Daily Staff Reporter Ariana Assaf contributed to this report.