Students pledged to “Stand with Planned Parenthood” in an event on the Diag on Thursday to show support for the embattled women’s health care organization.

In recent months, Planned Parenthood has faced a firestorm of accusations suggesting the nonprofit organization profits from the sale of fetal tissue of aborted fetuses to medical researchers — which would violate federal law. In July, an anti-abortion group released a series of undercover videos featuring Planned Parenthood representatives describing the process of preserving aborted fetuses for research purposes.

LSA senior Amanda Vita, co-communications chair of Students for Choice, the organization that hosted the event, said the purpose of the event was to show support for the organization amid the controversy.

“We are trying to raise support for Planned Parenthood amongst the media firestorm that’s happening surrounding Planned Parenthood and all of the congressional opposition,” Vita said. “We’re trying to show Planned Parenthood that we still stand with them.”

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly stated it does not profit from the sale of fetal tissue, and that the videos are manipulated to create a fabricated message. Several state investigations have found the organization has not mishandled fetal tissue.

The House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee grilled Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards about the videos for more than four hours Tuesday, and many Republicans threatened to block budget resolutions to fund the federal government if funding for the organization was included.

A bill to fund the government through December that included funding for Planned Parenthood was passed Wednesday.

During the day, students wrote letters to current Planned Parenthood staff members and launched an Instagram campaign to rally support by taking photos of students holding “Stand With Planned Parenthood” signs.

By 12:00 p.m., Vita said she estimated about 100 students had stopped and spoke with members of the organization.

“I’m really, really passionate about this cause,” said Engineering sophomore Sonia Thosar, who stopped by the event. “I just think that women’s bodily autonomy is just kind of a basic right that you have, so I think it’s really amazing that they’re doing this.”

Engineering junior Jake Satterelli, a member of Students for Choice, said Planned Parenthood’s continued operation was important to him because of his background.

“It’s important to me because I come from a less privileged background,” Satterelli said. “So I know people in the community — especially women — should have appropriate health care and, specifically, reproductive health care.”

LSA junior Rachel Crawford, vice president of the University’s chapter of Students for Life, wrote in a statement that the chapter is encouraging everyone to watch the videos in question and follow the professional investigations into Planned Parenthood.

“Those who support Planned Parenthood are concerned that redistributing the federal funding of this organization to other women’s health centers is an attempt to restrict abortion access, but at the same time are quick to state that the federal funding does not in any way go towards abortions.”

Students for Life also provided a statement on behalf of the chapter.

“Students for Life would like to see the federal funds which are currently being given to Planned Parenthood be redistributed to the women’s community health centers which provide mammograms and other life-saving care,” they wrote.

Music, Theatre & Dance junior Katherine Kelley said if students don’t actively show their support for reproductive health, they are in danger of losing resources like Planned Parenthood.

“I think if young people don’t get up and say that they want it to stay, then it’s going to get taken down,” Kelley said.

Kelley said she thought the demonstration was timely not only because of the recent legislative controversy, but also because of misconceptions about reproduction she said were present in current presidential campaigns.

Notably, in the most recent Republican presidential debate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, described an exaggerated scene of how Planned Parenthood saves fetal tissue as she says was presented in the undercover videos. Her comments — which were later debunked — received a thunderous applause.

“Especially with the whole presidential campaign going on, it seems like a lot of people are giving out false information, where(as) I think Planned Parenthood gives out good information, and good help that people need,” she said. “It’s a lot more than just abortions. It’s a lot of health benefits and a lot of education that people don’t get elsewhere because nobody wants to talk about women’s health.”

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