Planned Parenthood draws support and protest rallies in Alamo City

Organizers of a rally in support for Planned Parenthood said they expect hundreds of people at their their event in San Antonio Feb. 11.

Pro-Planned Parenthood activities are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, inside and in the area around Sabinas Coffee House, 2303 W. Commerce St. However, the groups in support of Planned Parenthood are not the only protesters that plan to be protesting on Saturday, Feb. 11. 

Groups who favor stripping Planned Parenthood of taxpayer funds have called for nationwide protests over the weekend. Created Equal, Pro-Life Action League, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society are the main national sponsors of the anti-Planned Parenthood protests.

Anti-Planned Parenthood activities in San Antonio are scheduled to take place in locations including the North Side clinic at 2140 Babcock Road.

Meanwhile, the pro-Planned Parenthood event at Sabinas will include guest speakers, refreshments, live music, voter registration and free family crafts. People can also make signs for Saturday’s event, and for the March 4  International Women’s Day March in San Antonio.

Vanessa Martinez Campos, a local organizer of the pro-Planned Parenthood rally, said the invite for the event has gotten an impressive response on Facebook and by word of mouth.

“We are hoping for 300 to 400 people, but the response seems to be much bigger than that,” she said. “We have about 90 people offering to volunteer.”

Campos said representatives from Planned Parenthood of South Texas and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will be in attendance, along with a variety of other pro-choice and progressive groups.

Since Donald Trump’s election as president, Republican lawmakers at the state and federal levels have doubled down on pledges to defund Planned Parenthood. Most recently, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks delayed the jettison of Planned Parenthood's from the state’s Medicaid program until Feb. 21.

Planned Parenthood sued over the possible ouster more than one year ago, but the lawsuit languished until Dec. 20, 2016 when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission informed the reproductive services provider that its Medicaid funding would end.

In January, Trump signed an executive order blocking foreign aid or federal funding for international nongovernmental organizations that provide or "promote" abortions. At the same time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at ending comprehensive private health insurance coverage for abortion.

Supporters of reproductive rights say these actions threaten individual choice, as well as organizations that provide comprehensive reproductive health care, especially in underserved communities.

“Let’s be clear about what is at stake: We have seen what happens when the state ‘defunds’ Planned Parenthood – people go without care,”  said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, in a news release responding to the cuts in state Medicaid funds.

“We will continue to do everything we can for the patients who rely on us and to fight for all Texans to have access to quality, safe, compassionate, and affordable health care,” she said.

Opponents say their goal is to end abortion, and to redirect money away from Planned Parenthood to other federally qualified health centers.

“The message of the Feb. 11 national rally isn’t just to demand and end to all federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, which comprises roughly 40 percent of their annual $1 billion budget,” the ProtestPP website states.

“We’re also calling for those funds to be redirected to Federal Qualified Health Centers that provide a far wide spectrum of services to women without killing children through abortion,” the website says.

The Justice Project of Love of Truth Ministries, a local organizer of the protest of the Babcock Road PP clinic, will bring "several large abortion victim and prenatal signs, as well as hundreds of special hand-held protest signs to hold," according to their Facebook event site.

**Cover Image: A photo of Sabina's Coffee House located along the 2300 block of W. Commerce St. Courtesy photo.