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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Supporters of Planned Parenthood rally at Western

Tell me what democracy looks like!

This is what democracy looks like!

As chants rang through Red Square, people in the crowd held signs stating “I stand with Planned Parenthood” and “My body! My choice!”  Their collective purpose was to express opposition to the Trump Administration’s defunding of health care provider Planned Parenthood.

The Stand with Planned Parenthood Rally Tuesday, Jan. 31 featured individual speakers, a “Stop and Dial” collective calling of Washington Senators and free pins and magazines.  The rally was organized by Olivia Hill, VOX Planned Parenthood WWU Chapter coordinator.

“There’s always a great amount of support for Planned Parenthood, especially on Western’s campus, and I think that shined through today.”

Olivia Hill, Vox Planned Parenthood WWU Chapter Coordinator

The Western rally follows President Donald Trump’s executive order reinstating the Global Gag Rule first introduced by Ronald Reagan, which will cut federal funding from foreign organizations that provide abortion services or identify it as an option for clients.

This includes international Planned Parenthood affiliates, leaving its financial future varying by affiliated branch, Hill said.

“There’s no way that it will eliminate us, we’ve been around for 100 years and we’re going to stick around. They aren’t going to get rid of us even if they try,” Hill said.  “The way it’s structured might look differently, but we will always have a presence.

One Planned Parenthood branch operates in Bellingham, while Western and Whatcom Community College each have affiliated student organizations.

Freshman Rachel Buselmeier said Planned Parenthood helps many people she knows and offers a lot more than abortions.

“It’s a resource outside of a medical system that people have access to in times of need,” Buselmeier said.

Trump’s campaign promises are becoming a reality quicker than Buselmeier anticipated. When the president was elected, she was hopeful it would take time before changes were implemented.

“It’s like a bombardment of change, all of which has been negative so far,” Bruselmeier said.

One of the speakers at the rally, sophomore Robert Pugh, has volunteered with Planned Parenthood for five years and hopes to work for them in the future.  He fears this might no longer be possible.

Planned Parenthood offers a safe place for many people, Pugh said.

“They’re super inclusive of whoever you are, whether that be Muslim, black or white, non-binary or trans, they will take you in and make sure you’re okay,” Pugh said.

This element of inclusivity was incorporated into Hill’s planning of the Western rally.

“Reproductive justice crosses into so many different movements that are currently happening,” Hill said. “Immigration rights are really intertwined with that.  I tried my best to acknowledge that today and show people ways to reach out beyond just showing their support for Planned Parenthood,” Hill said.

Another support rally for Planned Parenthood in Bellingham will be held Saturday, Feb. 11.

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