Six Rivers Planned Parenthood Rally

Planned Parenthood supporters, protesters undeterred by cold

Published: | Updated: 02.26.11

Planned Parenthood supporters, protesters undeterred by cold
Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 02/26/2011 01:27:31 AM PST

Nearly 200 people gathered outside the Humboldt County Courthouse on Friday to support Planned Parenthood, despite low temperatures and hail.

Dozens held signs and chanted at the rally held by Six Rivers Planned Parenthood (SRPP) to protest the U.S. House of Representatives' recent vote to eliminate funding for reproductive health services. Across the street, about 20 Humboldt Pro-Life members lined up with signs to protest SRPP's rally.

”It's snowing and cold, and that's how much people here love Planned Parenthood,” SRPP Public Affairs Director Tia Baratelle said as hail began to fall. “They're willing to come stand in the freezing cold.”

The House voted last week to pass a bill sponsored by U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, R-Ind., that would eliminate federal funding for abortion providers next fiscal year. Pence said that the bill targets the Planned Parenthood organization. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill in March.

Eureka resident Haley West, 26, said she was there because she felt the cut to funding would violate women's rights.

”I don't think the government should regulate women's bodies. We shouldn't be told what we can and cannot do by the government,” she said. “And, many women are going to be excluded because they live in secluded areas and cannot get to services. So, to stand up for women's rights is to support equality.”

Among the rally signs was also a Clergy for Choice banner. Last week, the group wrote a letter admonishing the bill.
”Under the guise of deficit reduction, the newly elected House Republican leadership and Rep. Pence are insidiously pursuing an agenda that is bad policy, bad economics and bad politics,” the letter said.

SRPP supporters weren't the only ones willing to brave the cold. Members of Humboldt Pro-Life also showed up with signs.

”They say we shouldn't be putting our opinions on their bodies, but they want to use our money to support their lifestyle,” said 22-year-old Essie Bertain, who described herself as a “hard-core pro-life advocate.”

She said she didn't want to fund an organization that performs abortions, let alone the country's largest provider of abortion services. According to a flier handed out by the group, Planned Parenthood performs about 25 percent of abortions in the United States.

”I'm here because I know it's wrong to kill children and any organization that kills children is wrong,” she said.

The bill would cut federal funding for reproductive health services, which includes preventative care such as cancer screening, sexually transmitted diseases screening and treatment, and contraceptive services.

According to SRPP preventive care makes up most of SRPP's services, while abortion services account for less than 10 percent of what the agency provides.

”Contraception prevents abortions,” Baratelle said. “You'd think if you were against abortion you would be in support of contraception and education.”


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