A member of University Democrats started a petition calling for Texans to stand with Planned Parenthood in response to the program’s removal from the state’s Medicaid program.
The defunding of Planned Parenthood in Texas comes weeks after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would cut its federal funding, although the bill has not yet gone through the U.S. Senate. Republicans put the bill through the House after controversy arose surrounding videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue for medical research.
The petition, started Monday on change.org with the title “Don’t Defund Planned Parenthood,” has almost 300 supporters, a number that petition starter, Joseph Trahan, public relations sophomore and University Democrats campus director, said he hopes will increase as he tries to spread awareness on campus. Trahan said he hopes the petition can give a voice to those in Texas who do support access to Planned Parenthood.
“Being literally across the street from the Capitol, we need to take a more proactive role in being vocal and supportive of Planned Parenthood as well as other advocacies and missions to prevent the state of Texas from going backwards,” Trahan said.
Trahan said anyone — not just students — can sign the petition. He said he hopes the campaign will expand on campus through tabling, passing out flyers and the support of other student organizations.
“We do plan on going further,” Trahan said. “The petition is just the ground work. We also plan to work with other organizations on campus, leaders on campus and we’re trying to push an awareness campaign that can be used in the form of having other organizations share the petition.”
One of these organizations who is working with University Democrats is Students of the World, an organization that uses creativity and storytelling to start progress on campus, according to Joy Youwakim, economics sophomore and president of the UT chapter. Youwakim said she hopes that more student organizations will spread the petition to show this issue can transcend politics to become something every student cares about.
“It’s something different when student orgs take it into their own hands and say yes, this is something real, we’re educated, we support it, we as students are spreading awareness,” Youwakim said.
Although Trahan said University Democrats hopes to spread awareness to several organizations on campus, the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas oppose the petition and are in favor of the defunding of Planned Parenthood, according to Allison Peregory, government sophomore and president of the organization.
“There have been several videos of wrongdoings that should concern citizens regardless of their partisanship,” Peregory said. “This petition is misplaced because defunding Planned Parenthood is not about taking away women’s health. It’s about standing up for the moral integrity of Texas.”
Trahan said he feels defunding Planned Parenthood is a regression in women’s healthcare and hopes he can help support other Texans who feel the same way.
“I hope to accomplish credibility to the claim that Texans do support access to quality healthcare for low income men and women in the state,” Trahan said. “The petition will serve as a way to get numerical context for those who do support that.”