READING, Pa. – The Reading school board voted down a proposed health center at Reading High School in large part because it would have been run by Planned Parenthood.
Dozens of protesters and supporters lined up in front of the district’s administration building Wednesday shortly before the school board voted 5-4 to deny the health resource center for Reading High School, WFMZ reports.
The health center would have offered counseling and sex advice to students, but those opposed to the plan were uneasy about the abortion providers participation.
“The concern that we have is that we can’t trust Planned Parenthood-Keystone,” parent Beth Rahal told the news site.
Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale said he traveled to Reading, in Berks County, to stand with the opposition.
“I felt that this issue was so important that it was worth making the trip to Berks County because it comes to our youth,” Gale said. “What your youth should not be learning is that abortion is a form of birth control.”
Several school board members discussed why they voted “no” on the plan during Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
Board member Eddie Moran said he voted against the measure because he believes the health center could distract from the district’s focus on academics, WFMZ reports.
“I believe the primary concern should be educating academically,” he said.
Board members Jean Kelleher and Brian Buerke both cited a lack of “due diligence” in vetting other available programs aside from the AccessMatters program run by Planned Parenthood.
Board member Bernardo Carbajal also noted that there’s already a nearby Planned Parenthood center teens can visit if they wish.
“I do not believe the compelling need exists,” he said.
Planned Parenthood-Keystone, meanwhile, took shots at the opposition and alleged protestors against the proposal consisted of out-of-towners who “don’t care” about local youth.
“Let’s be clear: These protestors don’t care about our children or our neighborhoods. They’re not from Reading. They’re out-of-town bullies who used this vote to pursue a narrow political agenda without any care in the world for the young lives their actions affect,” the agency wrote in a prepared statement.
“When these opponents finally go home, we’ll still be here doing what we always have — fighting to improve students’ chances of completing school, staying safe and healthy, and obtaining a brighter future.”
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