Opinion: UNH Health & Wellness Hosted Pro-Abortion Panel Discussion

Althea Ansah

I glanced at the clock in my living room: it was 6:27 p.m. After grabbing my phone and headphones, I rushed upstairs to my room and logged onto Zoom. University of New Hampshire (UNH) Health & Wellness was hosting a reproductive health panel including four panelists from abortion-supporting organizations, and I needed to be on time for the discussion.   

Dawn Zitney, one of the counselors from UNH Health & Wellness, facilitated the event. The four panelists for the discussion included Liz Canada, Planned Parenthood’s NH Action Fund’s advocacy manager; Devon Chaffee, the director of the state’s ACLU chapter; Sandi Denoncour, the executive director of the Lovering Health Center in Greenland, NH and Josie Pinto, the Reproductive Freedom Fund of NH’s co-founder and executive director. 

As a pro-life advocate, I knew before entering the discussion that it would be biased. Seacoast Birthright in Dover and Options for Women in Rochester (two non-abortion-providing pregnancy resource centers) were not present to speak. Knowing the past the organization had with other pregnancy resource centers, it made sense.  

Collaborating with UNH Health & Wellness to increase the number of alternatives to abortion has been an uphill battle. As the president of UNH Students for Life in my senior year of college, the club members and I have designed a document listing pregnancy resource centers, community resources for finances, medicine and food; child care facilities; and information regarding Title IX rights. We sent the document to Kathleen Grace-Bishop, the Health & Wellness director of education and promotion, but there is no word as to whether they would promote these resources in their office. During times where I would have medical check-ups at the clinic, I never saw pamphlets from Seacoast Birthright or Options for Women.  

I would not be complaining if the Planned Parenthood club hosted the panel discussion; my concern was that a non-academic department of the university, which is supposed to provide multiple different resources for pregnant students, utilized their resources to solely promote abortion under the guise of reproductive rights.  

During the panel discussion, some talking points emphasized the legislative side of abortion access. Since the Executive Council voted for three abortion-providing clinics to not receive family planning funds, there would be an increase in costs to their services. If abortion was illegal in some or all cases in New Hampshire, they shared, people would possibly drive to Massachusetts to receive the deadly procedure. Also, low-income families would struggle to access family planning services because Planned Parenthood, the Equality Health Center, and the Lovering Health Center were defunded.  

I virtually fumed when they shared that low-income women would suffer because only seven abortion-providing clinics would not receive funding. I asked the panelists in the chatbox how exactly women would not access reproductive healthcare. In New Hampshire, there are at least 50 federally qualified healthcare centers, over 60 urgent care and STD testing/treatment clinics, and at least 16 pregnancy resources centers providing similar medical services at the defunded reproductive clinics (just without abortion)? 

All the panelists ignored my question. They also ignored my other question about why there were against the ultrasound requirement in the new 24-week abortion ban in New Hampshire when Planned Parenthood and other similar clinics use ultrasounds before every procedure they perform on women. 

So, what did I do in response?  

In protest, I typed in the Zoom chat local resources for pregnant students, including the services Options for Women and Seacoast Birthright (which is accessible through the UNH Durham bus) possess. I also linked to Standing with You, a Students for Life of America affiliate listing organizations and clinics across the country providing care for pregnant and parenting students that do not include abortions.   

If UNH Health & Wellness rarely promotes abortion alternatives for pregnant and parenting students, the pro-life movement on campus will fill their place to help them out. College students can succeed in their careers and raise a child, and there are people to help them achieve that goal.  

Althea Ansah, Class of ’21  

If you or someone you know is pregnant, we can help. Call the Options Pregnancy Line at 1-800-712-4357, or the Birthright 24/7 Hotline at 1-800-550-4900.