Starting 7:45 a.m. on Monday morning, members of Pro-Life LSU gathered at the Parade Ground to begin setting up for their annual “Exposing Planned Parenthood” event.
The bulk of the event's presentation was 900 fluorescent pink stake flags arranged in a rectangle — the flags representing a rough average of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood each day.
Political science junior and Pro-Life LSU co-president Ben Parks said the event was meant to create interaction with all students.
"We're out here to promote respectful discussion and debate about abortion and Planned Parenthood," Parks said.
Around 11 a.m. the members of Pro-Life LSU were cheerfully repositioning posters and pamphlets blown crooked by the wind and taping pink papier-mâché flowers to posters. Some members greeted spectators, who were offered a sticky note to write their opinions of Planned Parenthood on and then tape them to a chalk board with a header reading “Free Speech.”
Posted in between phrases like “pro-life = pro-women” and “#preauxlife,” written in neon chalk, was a pink sticky note from spectator Christopher Titus who wrote, “Abortion is an atrocity. Those who practice it are either damned idiots, misguided fools or treacherous devils.”
Four booths surrounded the “Free Speech” Board. One highlighted the percentage of federal taxes that are used to fund Planned Parenthood. A chalkboard adjacent to the booth read that “79 [percent] of PP abortion facilities are located in low-income minority neighborhoods.”
Psychology senior and Pro-Life LSU member Maddison Casey said the event has been more “graphic” in the past. In previous years, the group has displayed the timeline of fetus formation.
This year the organization focused on the numbers regarding abortion instead of using shock value to convey its argument. The group printed and pasted numerous graphs analyzing and interpreting data from annual reports published by Planned Parenthood.
Some spectators came to discuss why they did not support Planned Parenthood, or explain how reports published by Planned Parenthood in 2009 are not relevant to the Planned Parenthood argument in 2017.
In addition to the booths and signs used to convey Pro-Life LSU’s stance on Planned Parenthood, an arrangement of baby clothes lay atop a nearby table. The baby clothes were an offering for pregnant and parenting students, according to business management junior and Pro-Life LSU president Catherine Stewart.
“We’re out here as a resource,” Parks said.
The members made sure that the event remained partisan free.
“We’re a pretty diverse group at the grassroots level,” Parks said. “As a club we’re not associated with any specific religious group or specific political party. We see this as an issue that is so important and that everyone cares about regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on.”
Social media coordinator for Planned Parenthood Generation Action LSU, Jack Stallard, wrote to the Daily Reveille that "Planned Parenthood stands for nonjudgmental, affordable, comprehensive healthcare. As a student organization, we exist to educate the LSU and Baton Rouge community on the services Planned Parenthood provides like breast exams, STI screening and treatment, well woman exams, pap smears, and more. Planned Parenthood health centers in Louisiana cannot provide abortion services at this time, but we will always fight for one’s individual right for access to safe, legal abortion services."
The exhibition can be found near the oaks lining the Parade Ground until 4 p.m. The group is also slated to host a similar event in spring of 2018.
Editor's note: An earlier version of the article said "the bulk of the group's work was placing 900 fluorescent pink stake flags in a rectangle." The sentence was edited to add clarity. In addition, some language was altered to add clarity, and an additional quote from Ben Parks was added after publication.