A peaceful group of students was kicked out of a publicly-advertised event with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards on Thursday at Penn State University.
Richards was part of a panel discussion called “Beyond Choice: Barriers to Healthcare in Our Communities” on Feb. 22 hosted by the abortion chain and its student club at the central Pennsylvania university.
Sarah Nahrgang, a contributor to the student newspaper The State Patriot and the secretary of Penn State Students for Life, said she signed up to attend the event. But when she showed up, they refused to let her in.
I RSVPed for the panel and was placed on the attendance list, but as soon as I showed my ID at the door, I was recognized and turned away for being pro-life. “You’re a leader of Students for Life. You have to leave,” I was told. Clearly, the RSVP list served as a means for Planned Parenthood Generation Action, the PSU club hosting the event, to keep dissenting opinions far away from Queen Richards.
Nahrgang said she did not have any plans to disrupt the event or cause trouble; she prepared a few questions in case there was a question-and-answer period, but otherwise she was just there to listen.
At least three other students who abortion activists identified as pro-life also were kicked out. Julia Messina, vice president of PSU Students for Life, received a text saying that she had been removed from the attendees list on Thursday.
The text said the event was “to engage our supporters” only. However, the abortion activists apparently allowed a student journalist to attend the event and report on it for the largest student newspaper at PSU.
Nahrgang said these actions violate university policy:
The Student Faculty Senate confirmed this morning, after these texts were received, that this is a violation of university policy. However, since Planned Parenthood Generation Action was also working with Planned Parenthood Keystone, which is not a student group, community organizer Christine O’Donovan Zavada disagreed with the policy and refused to allow pro-life students to hear Richards speak.
A spokesperson for Penn State University told LifeNews the event did not violate university policies because an outside group, Planned Parenthood Keystone, organized and paid for it. The spokesperson said third-party groups often rent space for private events at the Nittany Lion Inn, an on-campus facility where the event with Cecile Richards was held, and the private parties manage their own admissions.
However, LifeNews observed that the event was advertised in such a way as to not make this clear to students. The student club, Planned Parenthood Generation Action at PSU, advertised the event on social media. Its Feb. 9 Facebook post made it sound as if the student club was hosting it.
“We are honored to invite you to join us at a panel discussion on Beyond Choice: Barriers to Healthcare in Our Communities,” the post began.
When the pro-life students signed up to attend, they signed up in good faith, believing that the event was public and hosted by the student club that advertised it.
Before the update above, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said the situation clearly violated the university policy on blacklisting students from events.
“The decision by Planned Parenthood reflects their organization-wide fear of exposing Cecile Richards to any sort of criticism of their horrific policies, including their role in the trafficking of fetal body parts and the frequent misuse of taxpayer funds,” Hawkins said.
“This week I spoke to a room full of Planned Parenthood protestors and even a Planned Parenthood staff member at the University of Detroit-Mercy,” she continued. “I welcomed them in as I wanted them to hear my remarks and answered all of the questions posed at me. Unfortunately, Cecile Richards didn’t give the same respect to our Students for Life leaders at Penn State last night.”
According to The Daily Collegian, the event panel also included Roselyn Costantino, a professor of Spanish and women’s studies at Penn State Altoona; Michele Hamilton, the assistant director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center; and Roman Jaramillo, a Penn State graduate student and Planned Parenthood volunteer.
“We all have to stand together now,” Richards told her supporters. “Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the way we’re going to change the power in this country.”
Richards also urged young people to get involved in advocating for abortion in rural areas.