Speaking For The Voiceless — Palouse Community Members Gather To Protest Planned Parenthood

This article ran in the University of Idaho’s Argonaut newspaper. 

It’s great to read a fair and accurate report about this morning’s peaceful demonstration. 

Everyone was polite. No riots. And no garbage left over at the end. 

Crispin Thompson holds the sign for his parents during the Defund Planned Parenthood Protest Saturday morning in Pullman.

Danny Ryan’s young daughter Eva inspires him to fight for the rights of the unborn.

“It’s just a reminder that even when humans are weak … they’re still humans and they need to be protected,” Ryan said.

Ryan and his daughter were two of the approximately 50 people who protested against Planned Parenthood Saturday morning.

Elizabeth Dixon, the organizer of the Pullman protest, said it was just one of many protests taking place across the U.S., all in support of defunding Planned Parenthood. She said the protest happens every year, and it is the eighth one she has attended.

“We’ve had as many as 700 (people come) in the past,” Dixon said.

Dixon provided signs for protestors to hold next to the Pullman-Moscow highway. The messages ranged from “Pro-woman, pro-life,” to “Planned Parenthood kills and sells humans.”

As the group stood together on the sidewalk, passing cars honked in solidarity with them and the protestors smiled and waved in return. One woman rolled down her window on the passenger side of her vehicle to holler, “Good job you guys.”

Others were not as receptive to the protestors’ message. One man driving his car made a thumbs-down signal at the signs. Another man rolled down his window to shout, “Pro-choice.”

The protest went on regardless.

Protestor Kelsey Clemans said she came because she believes every human has value and that abortions hurt women both physically and emotionally.

Next to Clemans, another protestor, Mariah Root, said her faith in God and love for her family was the reason she attended.

“I’m from a big family,” Root said. “Growing up — and being surrounded by brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews — I have come to have a deep value for children.”

Erica Johnson, 18, and Cora Johnson, 12, also showed up to protest because of their family. The two said the pro-life movement has always been a big part of their lives, as they grew up around people who cared deeply about the cause.

In fall 2015, the Pullman Planned Parenthood facility was set on fire by an arsonist. It reopened in 2016. Dixon condemned the act of arson and said she and others want to start a conversation instead of resorting to illegal and dangerous acts. This statement was echoed by several other protestors.

“A peaceful protest is great, but I hope no one here would go burn down a building,” Clemans said.

Clemans said there is a lot of information spread about Planned Parenthood that isn’t true. She has friends who are worried there will not be any other resources for treatment if Planned Parenthood loses funding, but Clemans said there are other facilities in the area.

Dixon said if they are successful in defunding Planned Parenthood, the next step is supporting facilities that help women before, during and after pregnancies without offering abortions.

President Donald Trump made several statements in the past about defunding Planned Parenthood. Dixon said it is encouraging to have a president who supports her beliefs, but they still need to keep pressure on his administration to do something about it.

“I think everyone would agree that Mr. Trump is a morally compromised person, but I feel hope,” Ryan said.

Dixon’s mother Wendy Sensing said she is thankful her daughter organized the protest. She said in the end, the protest was less about the politics of reproductive rights and more about changing people’s hearts.

“We really would be grateful to see more and more peoples’ hearts changed — that they might see this and there wouldn’t be a need for Planned Parenthood because no one was coming,” Sensing said.

Erin Bamer can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @ErinBamer