Anti-abortion protesters gathered Saturday at Planned Parenthood clinics to urge the government to remove federal funding from the health services provider.
Leaders of the protest said that demonstrations were planned at clinics across the country and in response, abortion rights advocates planned their own counter-demonstrations in as many as 45 states.
In many cases, where people from both sides of the issue met at the same locales, abortion rights advocates exceeded the number of anti-abortion protesters, Reuters reported.
An estimated 6,000 people met in St. Paul, Minnesota, and local reports indicated 500 of them were anti-abortion protesters. Marches and demonstrations at parks, government buildings, clinics and elsewhere in places like Philadelphia, Washington and Portland.
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Planned Parenthood, which was first created in 1916, has nearly 650 health centers. The organization offers birth control and reproductive health services, including abortions.
While abortion was legalized in 1973 following the landmark Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, U.S. law bans the use of federal funding for it, except in cases of rape, incest or a life-threatening condition.
Saturday’s protests come two weeks after tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators met in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life to voice their displeasure over legal abortion.
President Donald Trump, once in favor of legal abortions, has since reversed his position and campaigned to limit abortion access. Some Republican members of Congress have backed the de-funding initiative for Planned Parenthood, which receives Medicaid reimbursements and Title X funding to support family planning.
“As long as they are going stay in the abortion business, that is an organization that shouldn’t be getting one red cent of federal tax money,” Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and one of the national organizers of the anti-abortion rallies, told Reuters.
Planned Parenthood said cutting federal funding would make it more challenging for some women to receive birth control and other health tests.
“Saturday, and every day, Planned Parenthood advocates and activists show that they refuse to be intimidated and they won’t back down,” Kelley Robinson, a leader of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Support, said in a statement.
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