Anti-abortion groups rallied at Planned Parenthood clinics in scores of U.S. cities on Saturday to urge Congress and President Donald Trump to strip the health services provider of federal funding.
With organizers expecting protests at up to 225 clinics nationwide, Planned Parenthood supporters in turn organized 150 counter-demonstrations at sites such as city parks, politicians’ offices and government buildings.
Supporters also showed up at some clinics where the anti-abortion demonstrations were being staged, and in some cases, outnumbered those who were protesting against federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
In Washington, demonstrators carried a banner that read: “The butchering and selling of the parts of unborn babies by Planned Parenthood is a heinous sin,” while about 100 counter-demonstrators chanted: “Women must decide their fate.”
At some points, Planned Parenthood supporters formed lines to block about 50 people marching from the Supreme Court to a Planned Parenthood clinic but police officers moved them aside.
“Abortion, to me is the greatest evil of our time,” said Delia Tyagi, 36, an accountant who lives in Arlington, Virginia. “Planned Parenthood has wronged women in a lot of ways. I feel like we have the momentum to finally defund them.”
Demonstrations were called in 45 states; as many as 6,000 people turned up for competing rallies in St. Paul, Minnesota, according to local police.
In some places, the two sides in the long-simmering issue in U.S. culture wars positioned themselves on opposite sides of the street. Initial reports indicate the rallies were vocal and peaceful.
In the Atlanta suburb of Marietta anti-abortion and abortion-rights groups took opposite sides of a four-lane highway and waved signs at traffic and shouted slogans.
At the competing abortion-rights demonstration, about 50 people gathered and held signs that included: “Women’s rights are human rights.”