ASI senators engage in heated discussion on abortion

The Associated Students Inc. Senate had a heated debate around a resolution about Planned Parenthood at its meeting Wednesday.

Senators proposed the resolution — in its second reading — opposing House of Representatives Bill 217. The national bill would deny all federal funding from organizations that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, even if federal dollars aren’t spent on abortions.

Although ASI remains neutral on abortion, the sponsors of the bill argued that students on campus benefit from the services Planned Parenthood provides, like contraception and cancer screenings. Student senators Roxanna Gracia, Alexandro Gracia and Jorge Soriano sponsored the bill.

In response to the Daily 49er article published March 14, Dyanne Roper, the administrative assistant to administration and finance at Cal State Long Beach, showed materials during the public comments section of the meeting that she said illustrated “the other side of Planned Parenthood.”

The packet she presented senators included Planned Parenthood’s 2008 tax return showing its president’s salary, an article by Mike Pence for, diagrams showing how an abortion is performed and a newsletter published by Pro-Life Action Ministries.

“Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States,” Roper said.

After Roper left, senators engaged in what became a heated discussion regarding the resolution.

In response to Roper’s comments, Soriano said Planned Parenthood does not use federal funds for abortions, and it is the single largest provider of sex education.

Senator Jacob Rice said he thought “it is disgusting that someone would bring in surgical pictures to prove a point.”

Senator Mark Rizk had provided the senate with allegations made against Planned Parenthood and stated that senators should take into consideration that, if these allegations go into high court, it would not look favorable on ASI to support the organization. 

At the ASI meeting on March 9, Rizk had questioned whether the senators’ constituencies were informed of the resolution. The senators representing colleges are expected to bring the senate’s activities to the students in those colleges for responses. This Wednesday, many senators said they had presented the resolution to their constituencies through the week and received positive feedback.

Senator Stephen Thomas asked whether the ASI Senate should even deal with such issues.

“How does this bill affect student educational experience and experience at The Beach?” Thomas asked.

Roxanna Gracia responded by saying that it is not uncommon for the senate to approve resolutions that do not directly affect the students on the campus — the most recent example being the Resolution in Condemnation of Criminal Charges Against the Irvine 11. Rice believed the resolution was appropriate for the senate.

The resolution supporting Planned Parenthood passed its second reading Wednesday with a significant number of abstentions and will be presented for its third and final reading March 23.

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