I’ve spent last week thinking and reading about the abortion issue. I’m not sure if I’m more encouraged or discouraged about this issue than I was at the beginning of the week.
When I started this blog to record my progress in becoming a democratic volunteer, I knew that supporting the pro-choice movement would be included. About three months ago, I signed up for Volunteer Training with Planned Parenthood and didn’t think much more about it until I got an email reminding me that the training day was on Saturday April 8th. I started last week by showing up at the Planned Parenthood headquarters along with about 35 women and three other men.
The person leading the training suggested that we might want to attend the annual rally that would be happening on Good Friday. I was puzzled by that suggestion. I had no idea that the anti-abortion movement has been staging a protest on Good Friday for many years. This means that the pro-abortion people needed to stage a counter rally.
Even though I have read a lot about the abortion issue over the years, I decided last week to read some more to understand why some Christians wanted to make Good Friday into a day to protest abortions. I didn’t find a good explanation, but I did come away with the realization that many people who oppose abortion believe that God is on their side which makes compromising with them very difficult. Yes, I know – that is not a very original observation. But, it was confirmed when I showed up on Friday.
As strongly as I believe that women should have the right to choose, I have never been to an abortion rally before. I got there early because I thought everything started at 9:00AM when it really started at 10:00AM. The anti-abortion people were already there carrying a cross, singing hymns, rubbing their prayer beads and kneeling to pray. At about 10:00, a lot of people on our side started showing up
I was impressed how the city had organized an area for the protest and the rally. They obviously had experience in allowing people the freedom to express themselves while keeping people with different views separated. The protest and rally took place on Charles Street which runs just north of the Planned Parenthood Headquarters. Fences were set up to separate the two groups and they had plenty of police there to make sure no one crossed between the two groups.
The city permits required attendees to keep moving so both groups had to march slowly in a circle while caring signs which I found to be kind of weird and unnecessary. We marched clockwise for an hour and then the leaders stopped everyone and we marched counter-clockwise for a while. This is probably old news for long time activists, but it was all new to me. While we marched, we were entertained with music and speeches.
I was also impressed by how organized Planned Parenthood was for the event. They had signs to carry, tables to collect donations and sell shirts, musicians, food trucks and they kicked off the morning with pastors from the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I’m sure we were having more fun than the people on the other side of the fence.
I can honestly say we had twice as many people as they did. I got the feeling from the crowd that having Trump as president has energized progressive pro-choice voters. I stuck around for a couple of hours but left at noon. I had to get home to do some data entry for my Senate District organization. Ah, the busy life of a volunteer.
My big takeaway from last week is that Planned Parenthood is not the only pro-choice organization out there. Planned Parenthood seems to get most of the publicity from anti-abortion media and politicians even though their main purpose is women’s health and less than 5% of their clients are connected to their abortion services. There are other organizations who deserve support from pro-choice donors. I already mentioned one: MN Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (www.mnrcrc.org). Their website includes a page that lists Minnesota and National pro-choice organizations. I will be contacting three to find out more about them:
- ProChoice Resources prochoiceresources.org
- NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota prochoiceminnesota.org
- Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting moappp.org
I should also add the regional Planned Parenthood’s website:
If you are a pro-choice voter, I encourage you to check out these websites.
Below are some pictures from Friday’s rally.