Pro-life versus Pro-choice activists rally in St. Louis - KMOV.com

Pro-life versus Pro-choice activists rally in St. Louis

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Pro-life supporters gathered outside of Central West End Planned Parenthood on Saturday. (Credit:KMOV) Pro-life supporters gathered outside of Central West End Planned Parenthood on Saturday. (Credit:KMOV)
Thousands of abortion rights advocates gathered in the Grove neighborhood Saturday morning. Thousands of abortion rights advocates gathered in the Grove neighborhood Saturday morning.

By GENE JOHNSON
Associated Press

ST.LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - People from all over the country rallied on Saturday as a call to stop the federal government from funding Planned Parenthood. On the other side of the political spectrum, counter-protestors also gathered to have their voices heard.

Abortion opponents in St. Louis gathered outside the Planned Parenthood in Forest Park in the early morning. Participants said they are hopeful that a change in policy is underway.

“"I think right now, our main focus is defunding Planned Parenthood because they perform many abortions and they are 20 to 1 resources centers that do more services than Planned Parenthood does so I think those are a better option and they don't need the government funding," said Meredith Stratmann.

Thousands of abortion rights advocates came together in The Grove neighborhood to show their support for Planned Parenthood and their health services.

Supporters said they are concerned about the future and growing threats to women’s reproductive rights.

“It’s a scary time in history. We never thought we'd be in this place and it's terrifying for a lot of women and I’m glad to be here with women and stand up for our rights and make sure it doesn’t happen,” said Teresa Harris.

Similar rallies supporting both sides of the abortion issue were held in cities around the country, including St. Paul and Detroit.

Many wearing the pointy-eared pink hats popularized by last month's women's marches, turned out for a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, separated by barricades from an anti-abortion crowd of a couple hundred people. In Detroit, about 300 people turned up outside a Planned Parenthood office, most of them supporting the organization.

In one of his first acts as president, Trump last month banned U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions. Vice President Mike Pence strongly opposes abortion, citing his Catholic beliefs, and the newly confirmed health secretary, Tom Price, has supported cutting off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood.

Federal dollars don't pay for abortions, but the organization is reimbursed by Medicaid for other services, including birth control and cancer screening. Anti-abortion conservatives have long tried to cut Planned Parenthood funds, arguing that the reimbursements help subsidize abortions. Planned Parenthood says it performed 324,000 abortions in 2014, the most recent year tallied, but the vast majority of women seek out contraception, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, or other services including cancer screenings.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says defunding plans would cut roughly $400 million in Medicaid money from the group in the year after enactment and would result in roughly 400,000 women losing access to care. Republicans would redirect the funding to community health centers, but Planned Parenthood supporters say women denied Medicaid services from Planned Parenthood may not be able to find replacement care.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Associated Press writers Jeff Baenen in St. Paul, Minnesota; Jim Salter in St. Louis; Ed White in Detroit; Julie Walker in New York; and Jamie Stengle in Plano, Texas, contributed to this story.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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