Credit: Annabelle Fagans / Mustang News

On Nov. 8, Cal Poly’s anti-abortion club Students for Life held a booth on Dexter Lawn that was met with counter-protests from students advocating for abortion rights. They later hosted Students for Life of America Spokesperson Autumn Higashi in the University Union to spread awareness about the anti-abortion argument, according to construction management senior and Students for Life President Eleanor Rheingans.

On the third stop of her Fall 2023 Campus Speaking Tour, “Planned Parenthood Betrays Women,” Higashi presented her argument for anti-abortion policies and abolishing Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive and sexual healthcare and education.

Roughly 40 people attended the event, consisting of many members of Students for Life, community members and other students. No counter-protests occurred during the event. 

“I believe in the scientific fact that life begins at conception, and life in the womb is worthy of our protection,” Higashi said. “I believe that Planned Parenthood betrays women in countless ways and I’m here to start that conversation and to shed light on what goes on behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood.”

Higashi joined Students for Life at their booth on Dexter Lawn where they discussed abortion rights with students and faculty. Numerous abortion-rights student advocates met them with signs that read messages like “I don’t want to be a mom, I got midterms” and “making abortions illegal won’t stop abortion, it just stops safe abortions.”

“There was a group of pro-choice students that were out there angrily protesting with their signs and we engaged with them a bit and went back and forth in conversation,” Higashi said. “We definitely saw a big spectrum of people: some that were completely pro-life or completely pro-choice, and some that were in the middle where there is a certain point in pregnancies where they no longer believe abortion is moral.”

As a student on campus in favor of abortion rights, business freshman Emily Nielsen said she believes that any club on campus that provides community and support for students is a good one. However, no one has the right to take away a person’s choice to get an abortion, she said. 

“Everyone deserves to have a safe space and community that supports them on campus, so if [Students for Life] is that community for people, then that’s great,” Nielsen said. “However, I believe that everyone deserves the right to choose what happens to their body. If you don’t like abortions then don’t get one. No one has the right to take that choice away from others.”