Tour of Planned Parenthood opponents visits Columbia
COLUMBIA – The Students for Life of America nationwide tour stopped in Columbia Wednesday as part of its “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood” campaign.
The group is the largest anti-abortion youth organization in the country and is visiting 60 college campuses this spring.
Reagan Barklage, regional director of Students for Life of America Midwest, said the goal is to educate students on health care options and where the funding would go if Planned Parenthood were shut down.
“A lot of people have misconceptions about where they’ll go for health care, like the myth out there that Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider,” Barklage said. “federally qualified health care centers offer easier access and more comprehensive health care with lower costs to men, women and children.”
Barklage said there are 13,000 federally qualified health care centers across the country compared to 650 Planned Parenthood clinics.
Kristen Wood, president of Mizzou Students for Life, said FQHC’s are a better solution to Planned Parenthood clinics and offer more services for a lower cost.
“If clinics were to shut down, we want people to know they still have health care, we care about them, and we want to make sure they still get these low costs and free resources that they were relying on planned parenthood for,” Wood said.
Around 30 students make up the Mizzou Students for Life organization with the mission of stopping the negative stigma around ending Planned Parenthood.
MU group members and national staffers handed out informational flyers and talked to students from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the MU Student Center.
“This is a very important time right now because Planned Parenthood is probably about to be defunded, and a lot of people are very concerned because they don’t think there are any other places where women can go to get health care,” Wood said. “We want to help them find other suitable places.”
Wood said federally qualified health care centers offer all the same resources that Planned Parenthood does, except for abortion. Those opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood point to the lack of available abortion access and a potential influx of patients at other centers as reasons to keep the clinics.
Wood said, however, that federally funded health care centers would only absorb on average two new patients per week and that only a third of legal abortions come through Planned Parenthood.
The assistant vice president of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Kristen Metcalf-Wilson, said employee expertise is the main difference between the work she does and that of federally qualified health care centers.
“We are experts on the cutting edge of reproductive health and offer all methods of birth control,” Metcalf-Wilson said. “They will offer up to a certain amount of family planning, but they aren’t experts in family planning.”
Metcalf-Wilson said the services Planned Parenthood provides are more specific to the community’s unique needs instead of general care.
“It’s really important for us to be available to the community for access of reproductive health, but also for other equitable issues such as transgender care, male reproductive health, some of the things that aren’t accessible in FQHC’s or health professional shortage areas,” Metcalf-Wilson said.