Planned Parenthood Project in the PSU Park Blocks sparks discourse, debate

An arrangement of 915 pink crosses marked would-be graves through Portland State’s south Park Blocks on Oct. 16. The display was set up by the PSU Pro Life Club in cooperation with Students for Life of America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to end the practice of abortion.

Lisa Atkins, northwest regional coordinator of SFLA, explained that the crosses signify the number of abortions carried out by Planned Parenthood on a daily basis.

“Abortion is a pretty invasive procedure,” Atkins said. “What we’re here to do is just respect and remember that this many lives have been taken today because of abortions.”

Though the right to have an abortion is widely considered an issue of women’s rights, Atkins said that the SFLA exists in part to provide a useful resource for women.

“The mission of PSU Pro Life Club is to educate our campus on what abortion really is and on the other side of it…is to provide resources to women, and pregnant and parenting students on campus so that no matter what…we want to provide them with options, we want to come beside them and say ‘Hey, we’re a resource for you,'” Atkins said.

Madeline Davis, a volunteer at the Women’s Resource Center did not share Atkins’ outlook on abortion and questioned the way in which the pro-life campaign was representing itself.

“It’s a really sensitive issue and they’re really misrepresenting themselves because they’re kind of appearing [as] this Planned Parenthood style campaign,” Davis said. “They have the pink crosses and they could be confused with breast cancer awareness and the pink signs kind of look like the Planned Parenthood signs that they usually use.”

Davis said that the prominent pro-life demonstration could be triggering to women that have had abortions in the past.

“It’s very disturbing for me to encounter and I think it’s bringing some very negative energy to PSU’s campus right now,” Davis said. “I’m really appreciative to the WRC and the reproductive justice team. They’re trying to combat that negative energy and it’s bringing some positive energy to it.”

The display sparked discussion in passersby as well as representatives from the WRC and SFLA. PSU students Alex Gates and David Morgun were locked in discussion about accessibility to healthcare and an unborn baby’s right to life.

“I think that what is obvious to us all is that life begins somewhere. I would say that it is not up to me to determine whether or not that life is worth living or whichever person it may be,” Morgun, a biochemistry major said. “No matter what their circumstances, people are able to overcome their different challenges…I think that life, it comes from God, ultimately.”

Gates disagreed and said that access to procedures like abortions is vital to a society’s well-being.

“I take the perspective that women’s access to healthcare is heavily correlated with the development and health of a society and that preventing women’s…access to healthcare is heavily detrimental to society…I feel like a religious basis is not one that should be entered into a political decision,” Gates, a mathematics major, said.

To learn more about the WRC’s Reproductive Justice Team, visit their Facebook page at

More information can be found on Students for Life of America on their website at