Vedrana Damjanović

Sophomore, Public relations major


Labels are limiting. Instead of categorizing people, society should respect the real-life decisions women and their families face every day.

One of the main points discussed at North Florida’s Planned Parenthood workshop Monday evening was abortion. Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision that, some women come across at some point in their lives.

The University of Florida Plaza of the Americas and Turlington Plaza were overcrowded the past two weeks. People held posters supporting either of two sides: pro-life or pro-choice. Every semester, this highly sensitive topic raises a lot of media attention and prompts both positive and negative responses from UF students.

Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), a UF club that teaches sexual education and gives out free hand outs and contraceptives, organized a Monday training hosted by the Planned Parenthood of North Florida, Inc. at UF’s Rinker Hall.

“What we’re here to do tonight is to tell people factual information, and to go over the process of what they (Ohio-based anti-abortion group) do and the tactics that they’re using because it is also important to understand what they’re doing,” said Allison Sunilang, a senior accounting major and the president of the VOX.

Dustin Arceneaux, a senior community educator at the Planned Parenthood of North Florida, described in a workshop abortion as a personal decision and a safe and legal medical procedure in the U.S.

“As a man and as someone who just holds a personal belief, I don’t really feel like it is my place to tell someone else what to do, ‘cause I don’t know their circumstances. I don’t know what led them to make any decision,” Arceneaux said. “As an educator my job is to tell people facts, especially when it comes to non-judgmental health care.”

Arceneaux stressed in an interview the need for accurate sex education, especially in Florida where teen pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections rates are very high.

The protests and the whole abortion discussion were contentious.

On one side, the Ohio-based anti-abortion group Created Equal set up huge graphic images of aborted fetuses across campus. This year they showed video clips of actual abortion procedures on a Jumbotron-sized screen. On the other hand, more than 500 people responded to the Facebook event and created a group for pro-abortion rights messages and counter-protest organization.

Kelsey Roman, a junior religion major and a participant of Planned Parenthood’s workshop, said she is not the one to decide what someone else is going to do with his or her body. Roman criticized the approach of the anti-abortion group.

They have the freedom to say their opinions, but what bothers me most is that a lot of the information they used is false; they try to shock people with some images and I don’t think that’s the fair way to get an opinion cross,” Roman said. “I would rather debate or talk about their opinions instead of broadcasting images and screaming at people.”

One of the supporters of anti-abortion stance, Daniela Barahona, a senior of family and youth community sciences, also said that the approach of anti-abortion campaign is wrong.

“I know they’re trying to create some sort of impact on people, but I find it rather offensive to show those images,” Barahona said. “Making people feel guilty is not always the best way to convey a message. Why not promote alternatives to abortion instead of focusing so much on how wrong it is?”

Barahona said she believes a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body, but she still considers abortion murdering a human-being.

“Eighteen days after conception its heart is already beating and I feel there are other alternatives to abortion; people should choose to educate themselves,” Barahona said.

For more information about sexual education, events and involvement visit Planned Parenthood of North Florida’s website,, or contact Gainesville Health Center by calling: 352-377-0881 for any additional questions.