ST. GEORGE — As anti-abortion activists rallied around the country Saturday, nearly 40 people showed up in St. George in support of 40 Days 4 Life, a nationwide event seeking to defund access to Planned Parenthood for Medicaid patients.
The demonstration took place in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic at 600 S. Bluff Street and included a coalition of groups, including the Pro-life Action League, Pro-life Ministry St. George Catholic Church, St. George Catholic Church Knights of Columbus and Save the Storks.
“Our whole goal, really, is to cut the money, the federal tax money from Planned Parenthood,” Pro-life Ministry outreach coordinator Diane Milecki said.
See video in the media player top of this report.
The anti-abortion movement, galvanized by the recent election of President Donald Trump and a Republican-majority congress, is seeking the cessation of federal money to Planned Parenthood clinics.
One family arrived all the way from New York to participate in the protest.
“We were just hiking yesterday in Bryce,” Dr. Siobhan Fitzpatrick, a pediatric chiropractor, said.
Fitzpatrick is the mother of six young children. The family was on a “homeschooling field trip” that started in the District of Columbia for the presidential inauguration and the recent “March for Life” event and stretched all the way to the west.
Along the way, the family frequently stopped at similar rallies around the country representing the Save the Storks anti-abortion organization.
“We’ve never had this many people,” Julia Romanov, president of the Pro-Life Ministry, said.
Romanov holds monthly demonstrations, but she said only a handful of people usually turn out.
“If we defund Planned Parenthood, think of the support services that we could offer women who are in that place where they’re not sure about their decisions,” Romanov said. “We could offer them all kinds of services, such as assistance with child care.”
Romanov also suggested education, housing subsidies and parenting classes could be offered.
“If they have so much support, let them get it from donations, not from my tax money to kill children,” Milecki said, referring to Planned Parenthood.
“Well, it’s really a misnomer. They’re calling it defunding. The first act that congress has threatened to take is to say that a person whose health care is paid for by Medicaid can’t use that insurance that they have through Medicaid at Planned Parenthood,” Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said in an interview with St. George News.
Galloway argued that the end result of a defunding effort is that women will lose access to affordable care not offered elsewhere.
“So, in reality they’re using the word defunding because they feel it plays better than we want to control women and say where they can get their health care,” Galloway said. “So, it’s a political move playing with people’s health care.”
The Planned Parenthood clinic in St. George does not offer elective abortions and instead focuses on access to birth control, cancer screening and sexually transmitted disease testing.
“In St. George there aren’t a lot of other providers who take Medicaid for payment,” Galloway said. “And the community health center where some of the politicians are saying that Planned Parenthood patients can go can’t absorb all of those women; they aren’t specialists in reproductive health care.”
However, the fight goes deeper than funding and access, according to Romanov who said she sees abortion as a moral failing in society.
“It is really not about killing children. It’s not about abortion, really,” Romanov said. “It’s about men and women choosing to have indiscriminate sex without any responsibility, no responsibility at all. It’s really about our moral structure and where we have gone with that.”
Galloway expressed concern for women seeking reproductive health services who may feel ashamed, writing in a statement:
These protests are designed to shame the patients who seek basic health care services from Planned Parenthood and to intimidate the health care professionals who work here. Women should be able to get health care without fear of violence, harassment or intimidation.
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