Jen Roesch, one of the organizers of a February 11 counterprotest against anti-abortion forces in New York City, looks at the political questions raised by this success.
ON FEBRUARY 11, anti-abortion groups targeted 200 clinics across the country for protests they hoped would build support for pending legislation that would cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. But when they showed up Saturday morning, they were met with counterprotests that mostly outnumbered them at 150 of the 200 clinics.
For the first time in a long time, there was a national day of action defending abortion rights and directly countering the bigots who have become an institutionalized–and largely unopposed–presence at clinics.
The reach of these counterprotests was all the more significant because they were largely organized by small or new groups of activists who felt the need to confront the right. Planned Parenthood’s political arm had opposed the counterrallies at clinics nationally on the stated claim that they would make things more stressful for patients.
Some local affiliates of Planned Parenthood did organize counterprotests, like in the Twin Cities, and these had the largest turnouts, reaching into the thousands. This shows what could have been done if the organization had seized the opportunity to galvanize the large numbers of people wanting to support them.