The debate on abortion hit closer to home for Chico State on Friday when the Women’s Resource Clinic held their nearly sold-out annual benefit banquet fundraiser at the BMU.
The Women’s Resource Clinic, a medically-licensed Christian ministry and non-profit, supports women who have experienced or are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, according to their website.
The main event included a presentation from guest speaker Melissa Ohden, a survivor of a failed saline-infusion abortion.
However, the benefit banquet had not been underway for long before about 20 protesters arrived with signs and costumes.
Protestors, led by the pro-choice activist group Women on Reproductive Defense, arrived dressed as characters from the dystopian show “The Handmaid’s Tale.” They held signs reading, “Expose fake clinics,” “Beware of ‘free’ pregnancy tests,” or “Hey, Women’s Resource ‘Clinic,’ why the deception?”
The main reason for Defense to protest on Friday night, protestors said, was to inform residents that the Women’s Resource Clinic did not provide legitimate healthcare services. Women who seek help from this clinic won’t receive medical care—they instead are shamed about their decisions.
“Women’s Resource Clinic is not a medical clinic in any regard — they don’t have any healthcare services,” Samdra Scholten, volunteer with Women on Reproductive Defense, said. “There is a chance that they would be admitted if a woman would indicate that she wanted an abortion—they would make arrangements to show her an ultrasound to intimidate her. They shame and guilt young people for having sex, for thinking about having sex—they’re liars.”
“Real medical services can be obtained at the Chico State Health Center—you can get birth control and pregnancy test there. Planned Parenthood and Women’s Health Specialists provide legitimate, impartial and nonjudgmental services with trained staff,” Scholten said.
Those who came out to show support for Women’s Resource Clinic stretched across various sides of the community.
“I know about the Women’s Resource Clinic,” banquet attendee Leslie Moller of Moller Realty Group said. “(It’s) an amazing facility which helps…give new parents—married or not, free pregnancy care (and) free education.”
Moller said the Clinic incentivizes new parents to come to bible study and parenting classes with a point system that can be exchanged for baby supplies in their on-site baby boutique.
“Children are the future… there’s not going to be any future for our country if babies are not saved,” Martha Kersey, a Chico State alum who majored in Child Development in the ’60s said. “Women on the other side are exploited and lied to. They get the truth (at the Women’s Resource Clinic) about everything—about their physical body, their emotional body and what’s going to happen whether they have an abortion or have the baby.”
“Adoption is an option…865 couples are wanting a baby and they’re not available, they’re being killed.”
U.S. Representative for District 1 Doug LaMalfa was seen entering the benefit late. He was greeted by shouts of protest like, “You’re going down LaMalfa!”
The proximity of the pro-life banquet on campus to students posed a concern for some people who worried how Chico State Students would be affected by the presence of the Women’s Resource Clinic.
“I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be allowed to be here… I’ve known about how they use the BMU as their fundraising location,” Scholten said. “For 17 years, my husband used to be the night and weekend manager of the BMU and he would come home after these events, talking about how the student-staff that worked at the event would be in tears and be upset because they would have to work in the middle of the event and they would say these ridiculous things. Students would be in tears, mad and want to leave, but couldn’t because they were doing a job.”
Many students, including members of the Gender and Sexuality Equity Coalition, came out to advocate against the clinic.
“My friend and I did this last year so we decided to come back,” student Natalie Hernandez said. “I know they’ve been on campus before, giving wrong information to students. Some students are aware (of the Clinic), but others are given wrong information about what the Clinic is and what is does.”
Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or @kimberlymnews on Twitter.