FAU College Democrats and Voices of Planned Parenthood petition Florida anti-abortion bill

Regina Kaza

A hundred students showed up at the Free Speech Lawn to oppose a bill that would restrict abortion rights.

On Nov 16, FAU College Democrats (FAUCD) petitioned against state House Bill 277, which would make it harder to receive or perform abortions in Florida.

Meanwhile, Voices of Planned Parenthood (a.k.a. VOX) had students call and text the White House, asking federal officials to make religious organizations’ health insurance plans cover birth control.

“I’m seeing a lot more than I thought,” said FAUCD President Boris Bastidas, about the petition’s turn out. “I think we’re doing a good job and students have been supportive of Planned Parenthood and of these kinds of organizations.” Half way through their four hours of petitioning, FAUCD had sixty signatures. By 3 p.m., they left with a hundred.

FAUCD will send the petition to the bill’s author, Rachel Burgin (R-Riverview). The UP attempted to contact Burgin multiple times, but she hasn’t responded as of press time.

Junior psychology major Julie Williams stopped by to sign the petition. “I believe women should have rights and choose whether they should have a baby. Some students don’t know about contraceptives and then they get pregnant. People need to know what options are available to them.”

FAUCD Secretary Ian Dunne added, “This gives students the idea of what we, College Democrats, stand for.”

VOX supported FAUCD by handing out information on House Bill 277 and the federal healthcare reforms passed in 2010.

Part of the reform, the Affordable Care Act, made the U.S Department of Health and Human Services decide which preventative health services should be covered by insurance. They decided on birth control.

Religious organizations and universities’ plans don’t have to, according to the USDHHS. VOX opposes this.

“We’re not supporting it and we’re making calls to stop it and not even get it voted on,” said VOX Volunteer Coordinator Destiny DeJesus. USDHHS added the religious exemption last August when it announced it’s decision, which goes into effect Aug 2012.

“This just came up. All VOX chapters are doing this right now across the country,” she said. VOX will be pushing against the exemption for the next few days.

The UP attempted to contact DeJesus as to why they decided to petition now, instead of August. They hadn’t responded as of press time.

VOX President Christina Stanley asked male students, “Do you think women should have free birth control? You get free birth control, why shouldn’t we?” About ten people participated in texting and calling the White House, according to Stanley.

“The whole free birth control thing will affect a lot of students with health insurance or who are planning to get health insurance. We have various students who care about birth control,” said Boris Bastidas.

“We’re standing in solidarity with students and women all over the country.”