Students frustrated with Planned Parenthood protests

Protesters carry signs outside a Planned Parenthood health center. Photo Courtesy of Richard Vogel/AP Photo.

By Kiera McDonald

Boston University News Service

Many Commonwealth Avenue residents have voiced their concerns about the protests outside Planned Parenthood, an organization “who works to provide health care services and education about sexual and reproductive health.” 

Enva Shima, a Boston University junior and former resident in West Campus, said she would frequently witness the protestors interact with people walking by. 

“If there was a larger group, I would feel slightly unsafe just because I felt like I would get talked to although I didn’t really want to engage in conversation,” Shima said. 

Shima said she agrees with the act of protesting, but she wants to ensure that no students on campus are in danger. 

“I think protests are a good thing and they should be happening,” Shima said. “However, I do think obviously, the safety of students is important.” 

People have a right to engage in free speech and to assemble with others in “traditional public forums,” according to Massachusetts law. 

BU Spokesperson Colin Riley said this is not a “university issue,” and that he was unaware of student concerns regarding the protests near West Campus. 

“I really haven’t heard any impact about students other than sort of individual comments,” Riley said. 

Riley said BU can only “patrol our property and our buildings.” 

“BUPD is not involved with any off-campus protest activities,” Riley wrote. “Boston Police District 14 patrols that area.” 

On the sidewalk outside of Planned Parenthood, anti-abortion protesters read prayers and hold masses. Safety officers were recruited to watch over Planned Parenthood patients as they arrive and leave throughout the day. 

Isabelle Bodkhe, a BU junior and resident of 1056 Commonwealth Ave., said she experienced sleep disturbances as a result of loud anti-abortion groups.

“I wouldn’t say they really affect me physically while I’m outside, but I can definitely hear them from my room, especially on weekends they’re much louder in the morning,” Bodkhe said. 

Bodkhe said the large number of protestors may make students anxious to leave their apartments. 

“I’m not sure if on a Saturday morning, I would feel comfortable walking right past them or especially walking into Planned Parenthood because there’s so many more of them on the weekends compared to weekdays,” Bodkhe said. 

Bodkhe said the “ideal situation” would be to “limit the frequency” of protests. 

“I personally don’t see it improving,” Bodkhe said. “I was planning on dealing with it next year too.” 

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