A pro-abortion student group protested a debate Thursday at Cornell University, complaining that including pro-life views “normalized the idea that it is okay to control people’s bodies.”

Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) protested the November 16 debate, which featured pro-choice Ithaca College professor Jonathan Peeters and pro-life Blackstone Legal Fellowship faculty member Stephanie Gray.

The debate boasted a host of co-sponsoring organizations, including College Republicans from Cornell University and Ithaca College; Debate in Science and Health: Cornell; Ithaca College Feminists United; Ithaca College Students for Life; No Labels at Cornell University; and Veritas Forum at Cornell.

Before the event even began, however, it became the subject of controversy when the Cornell University Democrats supported calls for protest from PPGA.

“The point of this protest is not confrontation, but to be a strong presence for reproductive rights,” according to the Facebook event page for the protest, which also noted that the debate “may be a traumatizing event for many people to hear their rights and bodily autonomy being questioned and judged.”

Protesters were encouraged to wear pink and pro-choice items throughout the day, while sharing their appreciation for Planned Parenton on social media with #ISTANDWITHPP.

PPGA Cornell chapter leader Zoe Maisel told Campus Reform that the protest was intended to provide more exposure to Planned Parenthood and its services.

Though PPGA did not stop anyone from attending or speaking, Maisel believed that the debate did not provide constructive dialogue.

“We like to focus our energy on community education and community building and creating safe spaces,” she explained. “That isn’t necessarily what is happening in tonight’s debate so we want to create a space where we focus our energy, not on debating, but creating a welcoming space to learn.”

Campus Reform reached out to the Cornell Democrats for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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