Vox debuts with Planned Parenthood speaker

Paul Thissen

Northwestern students gathered Wednesday at the Women’s Center for the first meeting of Northwestern Vox — a student outreach branch of Planned Parenthood, a national reproductive services provider — the same day President Bush signed into law a ban on late-term abortions, known by supporters as “partial-birth” abortions.

Robyn Nardone, a representative for Planned Parenthood, discussed with 35 students the partial-birth abortion ban which is described by a Planned Parenthood press release as “blatantly unconstitutional and bad for women.” She noted that the law included only a very limited exception for women whose immediate life is in danger.

Nardone said the law’s writers failed to use language suggested by the Supreme Court to make the law constitutional. She suspects the language was vague to ensure that the law would be brought before the Supreme Court, where Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

“(The writers of the partial-birth abortion ban) are looking for another fight,” Nardone said.

NU Vox was not formed in response to the new law, nor as a response to NU Students for Life, the anti-abortion group recently formed on campus, according to Weinberg sophomore Ellen Stolar, NU Vox’s primary founder. Stolar said plans for the club have been in the works since Spring Quarter. The group currently is applying to be as Associated Student Government-recognized group.

“We want to help students be aware of (reproductive rights) issues,” said Stolar, “and maybe take a stand on some of these issues.”

Nardone also described some of the services offered by Chicago-area Planned Parenthood providers. She emphasized that women who seek counseling are offered three choices: keep the baby, put the baby up for adoption through an adoption service called The Cradle or abortion.

“We do not sway anyone one way or another,” Nardone said.

Many students said they attended the meeting because of concerns over reproductive rights legislation, though some expressed concern over NU’s sex education programs and the availability of birth control on campus.

Weinberg freshman Justin Tackett was the only person at the meeting who stated an anti-abortion position. He said he wanted to listen to the abortion-rights group’s arguments.

“I thought it was interesting how our ‘pro-life’ organization and their (NU Vox) organization are fighting for the same goal: getting information out there,” said Tackett, a member of NU Students for Life.

NU Vox plans to go to Washington in April to advocate for reproductive rights. Group members also hope to work on campus sex education and reproductive services, such as contraception.