“Oberlin Has Sex” Shows Support for Planned Parenthood

Alex Howard

At least 100 Oberlin students made it clear this past Saturday that Oberlin Has Sex and stands by Planned Parenthood as the organization faces losing all its government support.

The month of February was tumultuous for Planned Parenthood. An amendment to the Long-Term Budget Bill proposed by Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) was passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 18, eliminating all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood receives more than 75 million dollars from the federal government to provide family planning and health services to primarily low-income women.

In a speech he gave on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 22, Pence discussed his proposed Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.

In a statement given on Feb. 18 after the House of Representatives passed Pence’s amendment, Cecile Richards — President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America — addressed the disconnect between the amendment and “pro-life” ideals. “It is difficult to understand why people who say they are opposed to abortion would do so much to undermine the family planning and contraception that helps prevent the need for it,” said Richards.

College sophomore Hannah Scharlin-Pettee worked in conjunction with the Sexual Information Center and Students United for Reproductive Freedom to show Oberlin’s support and appreciation for Planned Parenthood.

Scharlin-Pettee organized the Facebook Event “OBERLIN HAS SEX: Stand With Planned Parenthood,” which she says had 300 students listed as attending the day after the event was created.

The idea for the event was inspired by a video made by students at Wesleyan University in which they held up signs that said, “I Have Sex,” and read them aloud in order to send the message that young people in America do have sex, making Planned Parenthood a vital and necessary organization.

“Our goal was to get similar signs to the Wesleyan video, but ones that were broader as well — ones that dealt with testing and pelvic exams, the different services that Planned Parenthood offers,” said Scharlin-Pettee. “The video is supposed to be similar to Wesleyan[’s], with the same goal, but slightly different.”

On Saturday, Scharlin-Pettee spent four hours filming Oberlin students holding a variety of signs in Wilder Hall, Mudd Library, Harkness House, Dascomb Hall and the Science Center. She says that roughly one hundred students participated. Scharlin-Pettee edited the movie and posted it to YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter later that same day.

College first-year Katie Slaughter, who participated in the filming, said that she thinks the event was a success. Slaughter held up the signs “I get tested” and “I support Planned Parenthood” for the movie; however, due to so much student participation Slaughter did not make it into the final cut of the video.

“Judging by Wesleyan’s video, I think that Oberlin’s video will be just as effective in that there is so much support from young people and this is really who our president is trying to please,” said Slaughter. “Our generation is the future.” The amendment will not make its way to President Obama, however, as it was voted down by the Senate on March 9 in a vote of 44-56.

There was very little news coverage of the Senate’s vote, so on the day of the Oberlin Has Sex event, there was still fear surrounding the possibility of Planned Parenthood losing its funding. Scharlin-Pettee says that she still thinks the video is significant despite the victory for Planned Parenthood.

“I think the video also addresses a broader sphere of sex negativity in America and some of the issues our country has around sexuality and women’s health,” said Scharlin-Pettee, “so I think the video is still valuable.”