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Planned Parenthood supporters rally outside Fort Collins clinic

Video by Erik Petrovich.

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In response to recent attacks on women’s health clinics, more than 40 local men and women gathered outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at 825 S. Shields St. Saturday morning to show support for the women’s health organization. Planned Parenthood declared Dec. 5, 2015 a national day to show solidarity and support for local clinics.

Laura Marinkovich, a sophomore sociology student at Colorado State University, said she had been planning to organize a support rally with her friend, but was spurred into action by the recent attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic that left a police officer and two civilians dead.

Erica LaFehr, a junior sociology major, holds a sign on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood at 825 S. Shields St. during the Stand Up for Women’s Health event Saturday morning. (Photo credit: Sarah Papa.)
Erica LaFehr, a junior sociology major, holds a sign on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood at 825 S. Shields St. during the Stand Up for Women’s Health event Saturday morning. (Photo Credit: Sarah Papa.)

“We wanted to let them know we support what they are doing,” Marinkovich said. 

Supporters gathered in the Moby Arena parking lot at 10:30 a.m. and walked to the public walkway outside Bon Voyage Travel agency and Eleven 13 apartments at 10:50 a.m. The supporters positioned themselves just north of a group of four pro-life advocates so that, according to one supporter, “people see us first.” 

Despite ideological differences, the two groups’ only contact with each other occurred at the beginning of the rally when supporters first showed up, when two activists, one from each group, shoved their picket signs close to each other’s face aggressively but did not come into physical contact with one another.

Marinkovich said she didn’t expect there to be much conflict between the two groups going into the rally. She said she wanted to maintain a respectful distance.

“Everyone deserves respect, even if they do not respect others’ space,” Marinkovich said. 

Pro-life advocates, who regularly gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, said they were unfazed by the support rally. Jade Banks, a former CSU student, stood with three other pro-life advocates south of the rally.

“It’s hard because I think there’s a lot of misleading facts,” Banks said. “Birth control is harmful for your body. It interrupts the body’s natural need to be fertile.”

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Some signs were more controversial than others, including one which stated, “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d f**k a senator,” and another which stated, “Beware Christian terrorists.” The latter, in particular, did not sit well with pro-life advocates.

From left: Larry “Booger” Holgerson and Nick Sanders, community members, and Kenzie Schmitt, sophomore in natural resource management, hold signs and flowers on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood at 825 S. Shields St. to support the Stand Up for Women’s Health event Saturday morning. (Photo credit: Sarah Papa.)
From left: Larry “Booger” Holgerson and Nick Sanders, community members, and Kenzie Schmitt, a sophomore in natural resource management, hold signs and flowers on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood at 825 S. Shields St. to support the Stand Up for Women’s Health event Saturday morning. (Photo credit: Sarah Papa.)

“I don’t appreciate the term ‘Christian terrorist,'” said an art major at CSU who wished to remain anonymous. “It has nothing to do with the pro-life debate.”

Halfway through the rally, a Planned Parenthood physician snuck around the building to see what was going on and was applauded by rally supporters for her work. Some supporters went on the private property to give her roses and offer their thanks for the service the clinic provides.

Erica Lafehr, a junior sociology major at CSU, said that by showing solidarity with Planned Parenthood, supporters said they would not be intimidated by extremist behavior toward the women’s health organization.

“Usually, acts of terrorism get people to not go out and pursue their rights and choices,” Lafehr said. “We want reactions to this to be positive.”

Collegian City Beat Reporter Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EAPetrovich.

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