UC Berkeley students, community members and UCSF midwives congregated Tuesday on the steps of Sproul Hall and rallied to express their support for Planned Parenthood.
The rally started about 2 p.m. when more than 40 adults gathered to rally in support of Planned Parenthood. Students began to take notice, and approximately 15 joined the protest. While the initial ralliers were mainly women, roughly equal numbers of male and female students joined the event. An unidentified religious group of adults was voicing its beliefs against Planned Parenthood as well.
UC Berkeley freshman Phoebe Abramowitz was partially responsible for the rally. Although not a member of Planned Parenthood, she described her desire to organize an event in response to the recent condemnations against the organization.
Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of healthcare and reproductive services in the United States, according to its website. Because Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives and abortion services, its existence is rife with controversy. Most recently, several members of the Republican Party have expressed interest in reducing funding to Planned Parenthood.
“I was getting very upset about various attacks on reproductive rights, and I saw Planned Parenthood was having a Pink Out Day,” Abramowitz said. But “the nearest (Pink Out Day event) was in Visalia, so I was like ‘oh we should have one here.’”
While Abramowitz initially offered to host Pink Out Day, a national effort to recognize the health services of Planned Parenthood, on campus, a time conflict caused her to inform Planned Parenthood that she wouldn’t be able to organize the event going forward.
Thus, to her surprise, a Snapchat from a roommate alerted Abramowitz to the fact that the rally she initially organized was still taking place on campus.
Protesters on Sproul hoisted signs supporting Planned Parenthood and recited chants such as, “Women’s rights are under attack. What do we do: Stand up, Fight back” and “Not the church not the state, women must decide our fate.”
According to Abramowitz, who actively participated in the last 45 minutes of the rally, the rally occurred because of a Planned Parenthood mailing list and some people’s passion for the organization, despite any central onsite organization.
Various other student groups have also recently displayed their support for Planned Parenthood. On Monday, Cal Berkeley Democrats and Students for Reproductive Choice, Health and Justice co-hosted a photo campaign on Sproul. More than 140 students had their photo taken while holding a personalized white board that read, “I support Planned Parenthood because …”
According to Marandah Field-Elliot, development director of Cal Berkeley Democrats, UC Berkeley’s pro-life group, Students for Life, was present at the Monday event, where it handed out pamphlets and held signs that criticized and opposed Planned Parenthood.