Looking Back: 2011 Planned Parenthood causes controversy, protests on campus


Photo Courtesy of The Oakland Post Archives

People gather on campus to support Planned Parenthood on campus in July 2011. The focus ranged from reproductive to general health care.

Autumn Page, Marketing Director

In July 2011, Planned Parenthood — a healthcare organization with over 100 years of experience — tried to open a location in Auburn Hills. This caused mixed feelings and controversy between pro-life and pro-choice students on campus. 

“I think that a Planned Parenthood so close to both our university, other colleges and also the city of Pontiac is beneficial in many ways,” said Catherine Pannell, a senior majoring in social work at the time. “College students may be reluctant to use on campus resources, so with Planned Parenthood, they can go straight to professionals for services they might not otherwise seek. For the people of Pontiac, it’s beneficial because of the limited resources provided in the city. This will be a tremendous help to those who can sometimes not afford to provide for their families, let alone pay a medical bill or fee to be tested or treated for sexual conditions.”

Many student organizations worked together to make Oakland University more Planned Parenthood-friendly. Groups, like the Gay, Straight Alliance (GSA), women and gender studies classes and other feminist organizations, were implemented. 

Alexa Van Vilet, the GSA president, hoped the organizations would make OU more well-rounded. 

“Through communicating with different organizations outside of campus, the GSA will be hosting programs in the fall to promote women’s advocacy and awareness about health and legislation, especially in relation to pay equity and Title IX,” Van Vilet said.

Not everyone agrees with Planned Parenthood and what they do — pro-life advocates have historically opposed the organization. Opposers to Planned Parenthood have many reasons why they believe why they do.

“I think any place that kills innocent human life is always a bad idea, no matter where it does,” said Monica Miller, director for Citizens for a Pro-life Society. “The issue is abortion, not contraception. I think more students are going to be getting abortions at that clinic if it happens to open. I feel the death of any unborn child is a tragedy… It’s something that everybody should be opposed to.” 

Barb Yagley, a coordinator for 40 Days for Life, believed that Planned Parenthood encourages minors to deceive their parents. 

“Planned Parenthood, beyond the fact they do abortions, severs relationships between mothers and their daughters by encouraging teenagers to come to them for their sexual education and birth control, without requiring parental consent,” she said. “They are underhanded and sneaky about encouraging teenagers to go behind their parents back.”

The president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Michigan, Stacy Swimp, said the organization is trying to exterminate the African American population. 

“Margret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter to Clarence Gamble that she wanted to exterminate the Negro population,” he said. “The fact that they are positioning abortion clinics in black communities alerts us to the fact that the sinister agenda of Planned Parenthood is to commit genocide against black children.” 

Planned Parenthood still faces backlash from pro-life supporters today. In Louisiana on June 29, the Supreme Court blocked an action that would leave the state with one abortion clinic. The policy that required all abortion procedures be performed by individuals with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital was protected. Moreover, President Donald Trump has tried to pass bills that limit accessibility to abortions and the legality of them.

“I believe that Planned Parenthood is important for women’s health,” said Elisa Malile, OU student body vice body president. “When I heard students telling me that they don’t have health care and have to drive all the way to Livonia or Ann Arbor to get an annual exam or birth control, it’s devastating.”