VOX UMass holds vigil for victims of Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting

By Stuart Foster

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Vox UMass, a student organization focused on advocating for reproductive rights and sexual health, held a vigil for the victims of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Wednesday night outside of the Student Union.

Approximately 20 people attended and lit candles to commemorate the three victims killed during the shooting on Nov. 27. Robert L. Dear Jr. stormed the facility with a semi-automatic rifle and killed an Iraq war veteran, a mother of two and a campus police officer at the University of Colorado, along with wounding nine others. Dear was arraigned in court Wednesday on 179 charges and was quoted by the New York Times as informally admitting to guilt in multiple disruptions during the hearing.

“We are standing in solidarity with Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs,” said Dianna Bronchuk, the education coordinator of Vox UMass. “Three people lost their lives to this man’s brutal and shocking attack.”

Speakers at the vigil expressed concern that events like the Nov. 27 shooting endanger the staff and patients of Planned Parenthood.

Others showed their support for Planned Parenthood, saying that the non-profit organization provides extremely valuable services to people in need of health care throughout the United States.

“Instances like this should remind us why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said Haley Hewson, a senior board member at Vox.

Hewson added that advocating for Planned Parenthood and raising awareness about what the organization does are ways to prevent violence against the organization from occurring.

Sophia Muschell, a member of Vox UMass who said she wants to work for Planned Parenthood later in her life, expressed fear over the future of the organization.

“By the time I get the opportunity to work at Planned Parenthood it may not exist anymore because of attacks like this,” Muschell said.

Other speakers said the attack, in addition to causing loss of life, was a symbolic action against the security of those needing reproductive health treatment.

“An attack like this is really an attack on people’s well-being and safety, their security really,” said Amanda Chang, a member of Vox UMass.

A petition at the event was passed among attendees urging them to oppose the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, which the United States Senate voted to approve on Dec. 3.

Vox UMass is an affiliated group of Planned Parenthood.

 

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster