Roughly 1,200 Planned Parenthood supporters gathered in Old Town Square for a peaceful rally to protest the defunding of Planned Parenthood on Saturday afternoon.
AJ Kelley and Elijah Hughes, co-founders of the local Fort Collins Girl Gang, organized this event originally for just a group of friends. They were in awe of the amount of people that wanted to show their support.
“My goal right now is to have a march as big as Denver in Fort Collins.” Kelley said, “we are going to do more events.”
The rally encouraged everyone to stand together as friends with women who support the right to choose what they do with their bodies.
Men, women, children and pets surrounded the stage and took part in performances from local musicians, heard stories from people that go to Planned Parenthood and received support from guest speakers.
The many speakers included State Representative Joann Ginal, Senator John Kefalas and Hayley Ratcliff from CSU Democrats.
“An interesting thing about Planned Parenthood is that it was started over 100 years ago in 1916,” Meyer said. “Margaret Sanger was a woman who was a health care professional. She was a nurse. She wanted to start helping these women and their families. She was opposed to abortion and remained opposed to abortion her whole life but no one fought harder for birth control services, public health, education and prevention.”
The crowd was encouraged to donate money to Planned Parenthood in honor of the people they love, big moments that happened in their lives and as a way to show they care.
“Every single person here is an inspiration,” Staysha Ryder said. “Every single person who’s put time into organizing this is an inspiration. So thank you, everybody. The 2.5 million people that Planned Parenthood serves cannot be absorbed by the community clinics. We do not need to defund Planned Parenthood. We need to define Planned Parenthood for those who aren’t aware of the role the organization plays for women and particularly the role that it plays for women who are already socially and economically marginalized.”
State Representative Ginal and Senator Kefalas spoke to the crowd and encouraged more support.
“I’m really grateful and thankful to be here, standing with you in solidarity for what we believe in,” Kefalas said. “This morning we had one of our town hall meetings at Council Tree Library and it was the first time ever we actually had to turn people away. We had 125 people within the community room. We had to turn away about 20 or so people. So we are not alone.”
Ginal spoke about her time spent deciding on passing some bills through legislation. Ginal expected her peers to have patience and listen to both sides, stating that the two sides were both extremely emotional.
“I am very proud and I am very honored and heartfelt with the welcome that you have given me today,” Ginal said.
“We respect, even if we do not have the same beliefs, we still respect and listen to the other side.” Ginal said.
The rally was meant to allow supporters to gather peacefully and protest the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood. During the entirety of the rally only one person spoke out against the crowd. The man shouted “baby killers” repeatedly which was quickly responded with a large chant “love trumps hate” from the crowd.
There was also a petition at the rally meant to show Cory Gardner how many people showed up to the event and are concerned about the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Fran Levine from Fort Collins for Progress said the group was trying to bring people together to express themselves.
“There I sat with other real people, our paths crossing on one particular day, due to a myriad of different circumstances about which I would never know the details,” said Cori Wong, the Director of the Women and Gender Collaborative at CSU. “Details that I or anyone else should never feel the need to know. The only people qualified to make a decision about whether someone should get an abortion are the people that seek them for themselves.”
The event was organized and sponsored by the Fort Collins Girl Gang, Fort Collins for Progress, NoCo Spark, CSU Democrats and NoCo NOW. The event was advertised as a pro-choice and pro-Planned Parenthood rally and took place from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It continued without any weather complications, arrests, injuries or crimes.
Collegian reporter Hailey Deaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @autumn_hail.