Top

blog

Stories

 

Planned Parenthood: "40 Days For Life" Anti-Abortion Protesters Are Harassing Our Patients

plannedparenthood1.JPG
Planned Parenthood
The nearest dentist's office probably isn't surrounded by a praying, chanting crowd right now. Same goes for the nearest cardiologist's or closest library. But for patients seeking the medical services at the Central West End Planned Parenthood, the visit is accompanied by insistent, pious protesters who cluster around the clinic's front driveway.

"By the time they get to our front steps, it's not uncommon for our patients to be in tears,"
says Paula Gianino, president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

On March 5, the St. Louis-based Coalition For Life kicked off its "40 Days For Life" campaign, which will place anti-abortion protesters at Planned Parenthood's gated, compoundlike CWE location every day of the week for the next 40 days.

See also: As Legislature Debates Health Care, Voter ID, Politician Asks: Just How Dumb Are Women?

gianino111.JPG
Planned Parenthood president Paula Gianino.
For the past few years, springtime in St. Louis has brought with it the "40 Days For Life" campaign. (The name is derived from its numerical significance in the Bible, such as Noah's 40 days on the ark.)

When Daily RFT visited Planned Parenthood on Friday, the picket line of so-called "prayer witnesses" was a bit thin.

Of the five or so adults present that day, one or two patrolled outside the fence, shouting questions in at patients and those just waiting in their cars. Others hung by the driveway to thrust pamphlets at car windows, approaching vehicles still in the process of making the hard right turn off Forest Park Avenue.

"We're just standing here in support of life," one protester told Daily RFT, though she declined to give her name. "We're not here to make discomfort or pain. We're here to show love, because God loves everyone."

Gianino and other volunteers say protesters come out in larger and louder numbers on Saturday. However, even small gatherings create tension at the entrance: In this freeze-frame from surveillance footage taken on March 5, an orange-vested protester can can be seen blocking the clinic's driveway.

plannedpcam1.JPG
Planned Parenthood

"People don't know whether they're going to hit them," Gianino says. She's frustrated that city ordinances allow picketers to potentially endanger themselves and others by crowding the driveway.

"We're not trying to take away the picketers' ability to be outside our center and protest," she continues, "But there are legitimate public-safety issues here that I think are equally compelling to a First Amendment free speech issue."

This year, Gianino and her volunteer corp are trying something new: Planned Parenthood volunteers wearing blue vests act as escorts, encouraging drivers into the parking lot and walking the patients to the entrance. She says the tactic has been so successful that the escort program will become permanent after "40 Days For Life" concludes in April.

One volunteer told Daily RFT that protesters take photos of her and other Planned Parenthood staff, including of their license plates, and post the photos to anti-abortion websites.

volunteerplannedp32.JPG
Danny Wicentowski
A volunteer escort for Planned Parenthood waves a car through the clinic's driveway on Friday, March 7.


Rounding out the protesters' ranks on Friday were four school-aged girls; they held signs, sang church hymns and drew messages in pink chalk across on the sidewalk in front of the only legal provider of abortion services in Missouri.

Indeed, while Gianino and her staff fret over patients walking through shouts of "Baby killer!" and "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!", the clinic itself is under far greater danger from the Missouri legislature, which is currently considering more than a dozen bills that seek further restrictions on women's reproductive rights.

Continue to read how Missouri lawmakers are trying increase regulation on abortion in Missouri.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
129 comments
Anna Probst
Anna Probst

These people are not protesting peacefully. They are using their words which are not backed up by actions. They offer help they do not provide. They spout misinformation such as "These are not real doctors!", scream that you are a murderer, and if you so much as try to tell them youre carrying a dead/doomed foetus or that youre there for a pap smear, they yell over you. Im all for a peaceful protest. Im all for standing up for what you believe in. But when your tactics involve harassment and lies and not truth and action, youve become part of the problem. You say youre worried because "women who have abortions are at a higher risk for suicide" and in the same breath harass her and call her a murderer, what do you think thats doing, exactly? Go to planned parenthood. Thank the escorts waiting patiently on the steps, bring them a starbucks gift card, it will make their entire week. Go inside and ask the security officer if you can make a donation. Ask how you can help. They will give you a card with the mayors phone number on it. That, my friends, is a peaceful protest. That is activism.

Michelle Accardi
Michelle Accardi

I take offense to that casket. That is just sick to have that in public like that. I lost a daughter to SIDS and dont need to see that.

Amanda Erskine
Amanda Erskine

Why don't these people go and do something to help the children that are NOT aborted?? I can't remember the last time I met someone who was pro-life that has volunteered their time to helping children in foster care or worked with newborns who are going through substance withdraws. No one cares what happens to them AFTER they are born. They complain that their tax dollars are being used to take care of the unfortunate souls who are born into the world suffering, and the cycle repeats itself. No one likes abortion. No one gets up in the morning saying "I can't wait to get my abortion today."

Bambi Zj Baker
Bambi Zj Baker

I can't stand these people. I support planned parenthood. I remember three years ago, I went to the one in ballwin. I was yelled at for walking out of one. I had to go there for a pregnancy test because I didn't have insurance. They assumed, the protesters, I was going there for an abortion. Not so. I needed the proof for a "life changing event" so I could get insurance through my job. When they confirmed it with me, planned parenthood, the nurse smiled and hugged me. There was no mention of terminating my pregnancy. These warped people do not realize this organization actually helps people who are in a bad way.

Tim Corkill
Tim Corkill

Throw dirty used condoms at them or piss balloons...this town is boring just sayin

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

Well James Madison, Your profile is very anonymous so you probably belong to one or both of these organizations,

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

Well James no one said ban their speech

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

As much as I hate to agree, you are right James. However, the cops should be out there making sure the peace is kept and no ones rights are trampled

Brenda McBride Watson
Brenda McBride Watson

Why are volunteers needed to do the job of the police? Slay get off your ass and send the cops out there!

James Madison
James Madison

Ban free speech? Not a good idea for anyone. When you ban speech you do not like, someone will someday ban your free speech, too.

Christy Horning Williams
Christy Horning Williams

I would love to be a volunteer, but I would likely assault the first protester who confronted a woman needing a pap or birth control. Not everyone walking in those doors are having an abortion.

Jeff Keniston
Jeff Keniston

Does anyone think the protesters should have the right to protest just the same as the women getting abortions have the right to have an abortion? Every heard of LIBERTY? FREEDOM? Live and let live...for fucks sake.

Andrew Graves
Andrew Graves

I'll admit, when I found out (at 26 yrs old) my girlfriend was pregnant I was thinking abortion would be a legitimate option even though I was making enough money to be considered as living in the upper echelon of middle class. Why? Because I didn't want the responsibility. I look back and hate that version of me that even thought of abortion. A little teenie tiny baby brings a love into your life that you never knew existed and you find out what your true priorities are. That being said, I do agree with the morning after pill. Do I contradict myself? Not really. My fiancé miscarried last week. Only 11 weeks along, but still a living human being that deserves a shot at life if they can make it a long 9 months. My heart continues to break each and every day knowing he/she will never get to meet us. If there's a situation in which the woman was raped, would they not go directly to the hospital? At that point they can administer the morning after pill. I'll go a step further by saying that up until 4 weeks from conception, no bigger than a poppy seed, the ball of cells that will develop into your baby has completed its journey from your fallopian tube to your uterus. Once settled in its new home, it will undergo the great divide -- splitting into two groups. Half will become your baby (or embryo), while the other half forms the placenta, your baby's lifeline until delivery. What I'm saying is, by 4 weeks from conception is when at the very latest women should be able to make a decision like this. Anything after that mark is completely irresponsible. By the 5th week, the baby will begin to develop the circulatory system take shape with the formation of the heart. Stop and think people. Really, pause, think, then have an opinion.

Amber Burr
Amber Burr

Ridiculous. Who's to even say the patients trying to get in are even there for an abortion?!! They also offer birth control at cheaper rates, Pap smears, etc. for women. Smh.

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

The protestors are relentless, obnoxious, clods with lots of mental issues. They need to be banned just like the Westboro Baptist Church people.

wowza
wowza

If you would like to sign up for a shift, you can email them at friends@ppslr.org!

Nathan Kromat
Nathan Kromat

I know what I'm doing with my leftover fireworks

Karl Richards
Karl Richards

I will gladly help people thru. Post the when and where or a sign up sheet please.

Vincent A. Bess
Vincent A. Bess

I am so hurt by your tolerant responses. lol :) I smile in your face :) You are low lifes.

Tori Ramsey
Tori Ramsey

I came here to say what Jay already said. Thank you Jay.

Tori Ramsey
Tori Ramsey

Planned parenthood is the reason I'm still alive. You can kiss my ass....

Jackie LeMaster
Jackie LeMaster

Jesus Christ.. PLANNED PARENTHOOD DOES A LOT MORE THAN JUST ABORTIONS. THEY HELO WOMEN GET THE FEMININE HEALTHCARE AND BIRTH CONTROL THAT THEY NEED! They do much more good than what these people lead on. So ignorant.

JBunny
JBunny

I am confused about how clinic escorts are new for St. Louis?  I was trained to do that very thing, by NARAL, back in the 1990s, in a building just down the street from PP.  I chose to volunteer at Hope Clinic in IL, rather than CWE.  You think they are bad now?  You should have seen them over at Hope, back in the bad old days.  Then there was the time some "Christian" group from elsewhere announced that they were coming to The Lou and that they would shut all our clinics down.  They didn't.  Escorts and a small army of supporters came out in droves to assure access to PP in the CWE and were so successful that the protesters gave up, and turned their attention to Hope.  Over in IL, we had NO support from local LEO and no buffer zone.  I will spare you the gory details, but we made the news... and the clinic remained open.  That was only 20 years ago; I can't be the only who remembers.

julieb63074
julieb63074

@ James Madison disrupting traffic is NOT part of the first amendment. I also question the legality of propping signs up and down the easement, since there are more signs than people. The protesters also make it difficult to just walk down the sidewalk whether going to PP or to the Independence Center next door or just walking down the street.  I've noticed that many of the people/signs are for the Thrive organization that parks an RV across the street from Planned Parenthood offering "free and confidential health care". I called them, wondering IF I could go to them for my yearly "well" woman exam.  I was told that the ONLY "medical" care they offer is a pregnancy test, an ultrasound and STI testing for women only! No pap tests, breast exams, birth control or any kind, prenatal care or even help paying for any of that and absolutely NO services for men! 

Joshua Lewis
Joshua Lewis

I thought naral already did this in partnership with PP. Did that stop?

April Hill
April Hill

PP is not just an abortion clinic. They help low income women and those without insurance get health care and BIRTH CONTROL. To make an assumption that every woman who walks in is there for an abortion and then harass them is unconscionable.

Bryan Byerly
Bryan Byerly

No joke. . I'll help them through the lines

Michelle Zelt
Michelle Zelt

Instead of harassing women who are going through an unbelievable hard time in their lives, why don't they go to the orphanage and adopt or foster a child that no one wants??? If they "love" children so much, start there. Until there are no more children no one wants, shut the hell up!!!

Nikole Bowen
Nikole Bowen

Let me get my PRO-CHOICE signs out.... I shall protest the protesters!

David Enders
David Enders

Vincent A. Bess,Tony Dilport and David Anderson,if you don't have a vagina,shut the fuck up.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Oh odd, not too long ago, RFT complained that protesters were denied their free speech by disrupting traffic to Monsanto. Now, the RFT is complaining that protesters are able to exercise their rights to free speech. Seems the RFT is not for the First Amendment, but for an agenda.

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith

I'd gladly volunteer to escort, etc. Can't find any info on how to do so. A peaceful, locked arm counter - protest were we could block protesters from running into the driveway would be swell.

Christine Leighton Wilson
Christine Leighton Wilson

Like George Carlin once said while in the womb your more protected, once your out.... YOUR FUCKED! People need to mind their own business and let those in need of whatever they are there for take care of their PERSONAL business!!!!!!!!

spiralblanton
spiralblanton

The people harassing patients don't seem to ever talk about the importance of contraceptive access. This leads me to think they care more about judging others and the self important drama of their crusade than they wish to lessen the frequency of abortions. I doubt most of them express the same zealous fervor when it comes to advocating for access to excellent prenatal care for all women. It's not the least bit believable when they claim to "care" about the clinic's patients or say that they only want to "help." Taunting people by screaming names and trying to shove pamphlets at those who clearly don't want them are not kind, caring acts. Everything they are doing is part of a strategy that attempts to create emotional distress. 

IDonno Whye
IDonno Whye

LOL.Yeah thats where I met your mom....

IDonno Whye
IDonno Whye

I bet laws on these protesters would change real quick if they were standing outside some Health center protesting Viagra prescriptions....

IDonno Whye
IDonno Whye

It doesnt matter what they are there for.

David Anderson
David Anderson

"Don't kill me!" say the little babies who want to live.

Robert Michael
Robert Michael

a business that helps and cares for womens needs is not evil. your judgements are wrong.

naralprochoicemo
naralprochoicemo

NARAL Missouri runs a year-round Saturday morning escort program!  Shoot me an e-mail at NARALClinicEscorts@gmail.com to get on the ist for our next training!

naralprochoicemo
naralprochoicemo

@JBunny We still run the Saturday program at Hope and PP!  Thanks for your participation in the escort program - we'd love to hear from you about your experience, send me an e-mail at NARALClinicEscorts@gmail.com. 

naralprochoicemo
naralprochoicemo

Yes! NARAL Missouri runs a year-round Saturday morning escort program at Hope Clinic and at PP!  Shoot me an e-mail at NARALClinicEscorts@gmail.com to get on the list for our next training if you're interested!

naralprochoicemo
naralprochoicemo

NARAL Missouri runs a year-round Saturday morning escort program!  Shoot me an e-mail at NARALClinicEscorts@gmail.com to get on the list for our next training!

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@spiralblanton , ever hear of the Catholic Church? They oppose abortions and contraceptives. They are for monogamous sex during marriage. You probably have never heard of Catholic Charities either. The provide much healthcare to the poor, all without involving the government.

spiralblanton
spiralblanton

I am fairly familiar with the Catholic Church since I grew up as a devout Catholic. While many who work to limit abortion access are Catholic, I was not under the impression that the "40 Days" group mentioned in the story is specifically Catholic. While it is true that official Catholic church doctrine still opposes contraception, there are few Catholics that oppose the use of all contraception. If you don't find the studies and polls that corroborate this reality to be compelling,  just take a look around at the number of modern day Catholic families and see how many you can find that have more than 2 or 3 kids.


I hope that you are not implying that monogamous sexual relationships between married people never result in unplanned/unwanted pregnancies. Or that monogamous sexual relationships between married people are only producing family sizes similar to the rest of the population because they are solely using natural rhythm methods. 


My apologies for assuming that none of the people out screaming at clinic patients may also be doing charity work. A lot of Catholic folks I've known who focus on social justice find little time and energy that they wish to focus on the abortion issue. Some people prefer to focus on folks in the real world who are struggling rather than focus attention on fetuses inside of women's bodies. 


I have heard of Catholic Charities. While they do some work to try to steer women away from getting abortions, they also do a lot of work that directly helps people. I think that it a good thing. However, you are incorrect in your assertion that the government is not involved. The most recent statistics I was able to find for how much government funding they receive were from 2010. They received $2.9 billion from Uncle Sam that year. At that point they were receiving about 60% of their funding through the government. Church groups are often able to separate out their religious and non-religious activities and get gov't funding for the latter. 

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@spiralblanton , babies in the womb are in the real world, too.


A Catholic denying the teaching the teachings of the Catholic Church is not a real Catholic. Sorry. Within the Church you do not get to pick and choose. It is not like you can be Catholic and say, "the Virgin Mary was not a virgin," or "I'm a Catholic, but Jesus was not the Son of God."

Public polling data does not change the Church teachings. And what passes for Catholicism in the USA does not make a majority of Catholics. The majority of Catholics in the world abide by Church teachings. Those that do not must confess their sins. Denying their sins are sins places them outside the Church. They are no longer Catholics, but Protestants, whether they wish to admit it or not.

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...