The national debate over Planned Parenthood in recent months following allegations that the organization illegally sold fetal tissue has sparked action among supporters of the organization at Ithaca College.
Debate over Planned Parenthood was renewed in recent months with the release of videos that allegedly showed leaders of the organization negotiating the sale of aborted fetal tissue. Supporters of Planned Parenthood argued that the videos were fraudulent and manipulated, while others called for the government to defund Planned Parenthood over the reports.
Junior Christina Tudor, president of IC Planned Parenthood Generation Action, said this is not the first time a group has released videos intended to cause controversy about the organization, and IC Generation Action works to raise awareness around the issue.
Tudor began the organization during her freshman year on campus in 2013 after the club went through a period of inactivity. IC Generation Action replaced Voices of Planned Parenthood, otherwise known as VOX, at the college. Tudor said the transition happened because Generation Action is encouraged to participate in national political activism, while VOX was strictly a discussion-based group.
“The goal of Generation Action is not just to have discussion-based meetings on relevant issues,” Tudor said. “It’s where you’ll have important conversations about reproductive justice and then also get to take part in a lot of tangible activism.”
Students involved in IC Generation Action participated in the Sept. 29 Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes campaign for Pink Out Day, a national day where supporters of Planned Parenthood dress in pink.
“People wore pink, we had a ‘Stand with a Planned Parenthood’ sign and we did a photo campaign,” Tudor said. Photographs from the event of the students as well as other supporters were posted to PPSFL’s Twitter page.
In the past, IC Generation Action has lobbied in Albany in support of women’s equality and has organized several educational programs for students at the college, Tudor said.
Liz Gipson, director of public affairs at PPSFL, said she thought the involvement and effort of the students was incredibly important to the organization.
“It’s really powerful to see students advocate for themselves in this way,” Gipson said.
Members of IC Generation Action also took part in National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22. Tudor said the organization’s goal for the day was to register people to vote and to encourage additional involvement in the political process. Senior Kelsey McKim, treasurer of IC Generation Action, said she personally mailed about 30 voter registration forms, but many additional students picked up copies of the form to complete on their own.
“We figured that it was a very good complement to what we stand for,” McKim said. “Just being politically active is a good idea.”
Gipson assisted in planning the organization’s activities on National Voter Registration Day.
“As we know right now from all these defending efforts, who we elect really affects our ability to access health care,” Gipson said.
In the upcoming weeks, Tudor said IC Generation Action plans to organize a phone bank, which is a campaign where individuals will call Tompkins County residents and ask them to call Rep. Tom Reed, who serves the 23rd District representing the region, to express their disappointment that he did not support Planned Parenthood. On Sept. 18, Reed voted in favor of the bill that would have defunded the organization.
Several weeks ago at IC Generation Action’s first meeting of the year, members sent New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer thank you cards to express appreciation for their support of Planned Parenthood, Tudor said.
Gipson said two other colleges in the region have student groups affiliated with Planned Parenthood on their campuses: Elmira College has a Generation Action club, and Cornell University has a VOX group.
“It’s important that young women get involved so they don’t take [reproductive] rights for granted because there’s very real challenges all the time,” McKim said.