“No funding for killing babies” signs, alongside “My body, my choice” signs were part of conflicting protests in front of Reno’s Fifth Street Planned Parenthood. On Saturday, Feb. 11, two protests were seen side by side, one side supporting Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose, the other calling to defund Planned Parenthood.
“We heard there was going to be a protest from another agency that does not feel that federal funds should be going toward Planned Parenthood and we wanted to show our support for Planned Parenthood,” said Sharon Brown, organizer of the Planned Parenthood support protest and member of Action Together Nevada.
The Reno protests were two of many protests across the country. Over 225 rallies were planned for Saturday in 45 states calling to defund Planned Parenthood.
Hundreds of men and women of all ages arrived at the Planned Parenthood in downtown Reno dressed in pink and carrying signs at 9 a.m. to counter the anti-Planned Parenthood protest that was planned for later that morning.
“I am here to support my rights as a woman, I am here to support Planned Parenthood, which as a teen, supported me and I am against having my rights taken away,” said Dominique Nelson, a pro-Planned Parenthood protestor.
Nelson was dressed her “vagina costume” in order to draw attention to women’s health and women’s rights.
“I’ve gotten a lot of attention this morning,” Nelson said.
While the pro-Planned Parenthood protesters led chants and encouraged passing cars to “honk for women’s rights,” the anti- Planned Parenthood protestors at the end of the block were a lot quieter.
“We’re in support of putting our federal taxpayer dollars toward federally qualified health care centers as apposed to Planned Parenthood because they provide more resources, there are more of them and they serve more women,” said Hannah Novak, President of Nevada Students for Life, the Pro-life club on campus at the University of Nevada, Reno. “For example, there are only three planned parenthoods in Nevada and over 20 federally qualified health care centers, so we want to put our tax dollars toward them because they provide more care for women.”
Early last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans will introduce a budget bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Defunding Planned Parenthood would hinder the group’s ability to provide health care services, particularly to low-income men and women.
“When we were tabling, there are a lot of people who come up and think that Planned Parenthood is the only place that provides services for women, so they think that if you want to defund Planned Parenthood, it’s an attack on women’s rights, and I would say it is not an attack on women’s rights, we just want to put the money toward federally funded health care centers because they give better care and more care,” Novak said.
Novak said that if Planned Parenthood was defunded, the organization wouldn’t go away, instead the federal funds currently going towards Planned Parenthood would go towards other health care centers. Novak claims other health care centers besides Planned Parenthood give better care to women.
“I came from a small town in Alaska with 3,000 people and Planned Parenthood was kind of it as far as if you needed condoms or HIV/STD testing and didn’t want to ask your parents,” said Gabriel Selbig, a student at UNR and pro-Planned Parenthood protestor. “Planned Parenthood is one of those resources that is the most far-reaching that I know of, they are in every community that I have ever lived in. I just do not understand the battle against them.”
The pro-Planned Parenthood protestors also held signs protesting Dean Heller and chanted “Dean Heller has got to go.”
Heller voted to defund Planned Parenthood in August of last year when a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood failed with a 53 to 46 vote.
“We need to get Dean Heller out of here because that is exactly why we are here. It’s Dean Heller’s vote in Congress that has not represented me, at least and there are a lot of people who feel this way, so come 2018 we need to band together like we are this morning to do more than protest a vote that he’s doing, but to finally get him out of there,” said Carlos Pérez Campbell, student at UNR and president of the Washoe County Young Democrats.
While both sides of the protest had differing opinions, Novak said she admired the way both groups were able to come out and protest and voice their opinions.
According to Reno Police, there were around 20 people protesting Planned Parenthood and a couple hundred pro-Planned Parenthood protestors.
Video of the protest is below.