Planned Parenthood arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday with its giant pink bus. They are currently on a tour around the country to raise awareness about the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood’s Big Pink Bus
All photos by Anne C. Savage — please do not use without permission
Over 500 supporters showed up to show that they “Stand with Planned Parenthood” against this effort to restrict this terrific organization’s ability to provide health services to women across the country. They started out at “The Diag” on the campus of the University of Michigan where various speakers talked about Planned Parenthood’s services and the valuable role they play in the lives of both women and men in this country.
One of the speakers was Lori Lamerand, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan. She told the crowd:
I’ve spent more than 25 years with Planned Parenthood. and this is the biggest attack we’ve seen in that time. What does that have to do with jump starting our economy or getting people back to work?
Debbie Dingell speaks to the crowd
Debbie Dingell, an active leader in the Democratic Party and wife of Dean of the House, Congressman John Dingell, pointed out that we wouldn’t be having this fight if Democrats had turned out in sufficient numbers last November. She told the crowd that this should be a rallying cry for them to get organized and active in preparation for 2012. She told the crowd that most of them are too young to remember the fights for a woman’s right to have an abortion that culminated with the passage of Roe vs. Wade in the early 70s. She urged the students not to take the battles waged by their mothers and aunts for granted. “I never thought I’d have to be at a rally like this at my age and fight for what we already fought for,” she told them. “This is about the most basic issues of quality care for women. Do not become quiet and complacent and take it for granted. Make sure we keep progress happening and don’t go backward.”
Hundreds of Planned Parenthood supporters on the U of M Diag
A small number of anti-choice zealots showed up, several toting gigantic, professionally-created signs showing Photoshopped images of supposedly aborted fetuses. These same people show up across the country. The crowd in Ann Arbor mostly cheerfully ignored them. One man insisted on maniacally screaming platitudes the entire time. A supporter of Planned Parenthood followed him around and drowned him out the entire time by singing “HOOOOOOOOOO!” right next to him.
An anti-choice protester is drowned out by a singing Planned Parenthood supporter
In addition to the predictable anti-choice signs was this particularly offensive racist one. This young woman clearly spent an enormous amount of time drawing an image of an African American baby in a diaper leaning on a Michigan Wolverine football helmet. Her caption read “Imagine the Potential”.
Undisguised racism in full evidence
Apparently, in this young woman’s mind, black babies only have the potential to play football. Apparently they can’t be doctors or lawyers or farmers or some other member of our society.
After the speakers concluded, the crowd marched across campus to Planned Parenthood’s Big Pink Bus.
Rally attendees staging for their march across campus
I was particularly fond of this young woman’s sign reading “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries”!
The ralliers congregated at the bus for some chanting and photos.
Dogs for women’s health
Perhaps my favorite sign of the day was this one reading “IT’s 2011: WTF?!”
I left this comment on AnnArbor.com’s article on the rally:
How is it that we are still having to fight for the progress we made so many years ago???
The people protesting Planned Parenthood need to join the rest of us in the twenty-first century. They are still fighting a fight they lost over 40 years ago in the 70s. Society and the courts and the majority of Americans have spoken: abortion is now legal and is a basic part of women’s healthcare. Your giant Photoshopped signs to gross people out, your muttering of prayers, and odd shouting of platitudes notwithstanding, society is not going to roll back the clock nearly five decades to appease your archaic religious views.
And let’s all remember this: Planned Parenthood isn’t all about abortions. It’s about women’s health. They provide invaluable services to women of all ages in the communities where they have a presence. Bless them and their supporters.
What happened at the polls last fall has directly resulted in what we’re witnessing in this country today: the stripping away of a shocking number of progressive achievements of the past 4-5 decades. Collective bargaining rights of union members being eviscerated or eliminated. Funding for valuable public entities like National Public Radio being eliminated. And basic access to health care services for women as provided by Planned Parenthood being threatened because of the archaic views of a small segment of our population. So-called “small government” conservatives are more than happy to intrude into the lives of women to ensure that every pregnancy comes to term. Some are even vocally opposed to contraceptive services as evidenced by one ridiculous man at yesterday’s rally. The very services provided by Planned Parenthood that lead to fewer abortions being performed — education and contraception — are at risk because of the anti-choice zealots and their upside-down view of how the world should be.
This is what is at stake in this country right now. If you care about preserving the progress that we’ve made in the past two years and, in fact, over the past 50 years, get involved, have a voice, a make sure we don’t allow conservatives to retain the power they gained in November 2010.
And, yes, it really IS that important.
I’m just sayin’…