National Anti-Abortion Group Targets Eureka Planned Parenthood
UPDATE 5:20 P.M.: Article updated to reflect interview with 40 Days for Life volunteer, Allen Rode.
The Six Rivers Planned Parenthood in Eureka which provides birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases as well as abortions has been targeted by a national campaign to end abortion. The 40 Days for Life campaign is a Christian based organization that, according to its website, seeks to “bring an end to abortion.”
On the evening of Tuesday, February 12th, a group from the campaign met in front of Planned Parenthood’s driveway to begin their vigil.
40 Days for Life brings about 20 people together in front of Six Rivers Planned Parenthood to kickoff a campaign designed to bring attention to anti abortion viewpoints.
According to the group’s website, the 40 Days for Life plans to put on a peaceful vigil outside the office of Planned Parenthood for 40 days. They encourage their members to fast and pray during this time but the centerpiece to their protest is “focused, 40-day, non-stop, round-the-clock prayer vigil outside a single Planned Parenthood center.” They are doing this sort of protest in multiple areas.
“If abortion is going to be reduced, it has to come from a change in the heart,” says local volunteer for the 40 Days for Life organization, Allen Rode. Rode has made commitments to be in front of the Eureka Planned Parenthood clinic for one hour every morning and one hour every evening. These hours accommodate his work schedule.
Rode doesn’t like to call what he is doing a protest. Instead, he prefers to emphasis that his group is prayer oriented and non violent. He says that they will be performing a peaceful and prayerful vigil. There will be no graphic depictions of abortions. There will be no confrontations. “We are not out there to get in anyone’s faces and make them feel guilty or ashamed.” He acknowledges that some anti abortion groups have done this in the past but insists this isn’t his group’s agenda. “It is only through dialogue we can understand each other,” he points out.
Tia Baratelle, Director of Public Affairs at Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, says that the 40 Days for Life campaign has been done in multiple locations but “it is the first time in our county.” Baratelle said the first night she saw around 20 people show up but since then there have only been two or three people at the vigil. However, she says, the group is videotaping people entering and leaving the area. This may be legal, she says, but she believes it is “invasive to patients seeking health care.” The people entering the driveway to their clinic may be entering either of the two other doctors’ offices in the same place or they may be using any of Planned Parenthood’s many services.
Baratelle says that her staff “works tirelessly so that women, men and families always have access to health care in a safe and caring environment.” She worries that their clients will be uncomfortable. She calls the protest a form of “intimidation” and says it, especially the video taping, is invasive to the people coming to their office and the doctors’ offices nearby.
The Six Rivers Planned Parenthood Facebook page says, “Anti-choice protesters are planning to visit our Health Center every day for 40 days – carrying signs, handing out misleading information, video taping & photographing our patients and may even yell hurtful things.” The clinic has begun a pledge drive in response. They call it their “a PLEDGE-A-PICKETER campaign.” They are asking supporters to donate a “set amount for each day the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood health center is picketed between February 13 – March 24, 2013 or Make a one-time donation toward the campaign.”
As of the time of this writing, the pledge drive had brought in $3000. Baratelle says that at the end of the protest they plan on presenting the 40 Days for Life picketeers with a thank you for the money raised.
Rode has heard of similar pledge drives being held in response to the 40 Days for Life campaign. “It may or may not be an effective fundraising tool for them but we are praying to change hearts,” he says. He believes that changing hearts brings about more long term change than money. “I’m not worried too much,” he states calmly.