Protesters flood Capitol steps in support of Planned Parenthood

A crowd gathered on the capitol steps Tuesday to show their support for Planned Parenthood. In recent weeks, Republican lawmakers in Congress have tried to strip the organization of its federal funding.

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Photo: Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO.
Photo: Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO.

Rally goers clutched signs that said, “Have your children by choice not chance”, “Grandpas support Planned Parenthood” and, of course, a sign to honk “if you love Planned Parenthood.”

Dave Sturdevant borrowed his wife’s hot pink scarf for the rally. He blended into a sea of pink shoes, T-shirts and knitted hats that the crowd of about 30 was encouraged to wear.

“It’s about 90 percent senior citizens like myself. You have senior citizens well past reproductive age out here to support the cause for younger women and families,” he said.

There are four Planned Parenthood clinics in Alaska. They provide STD and cancer screenings for men and women, pap smears, sex education and LGBT services. And yes, three of the clinics provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood has been in the headlines lately because of a sting video showing affiliates discussing the harvest of aborted fetal parts. And conservative Republicans are using the controversy to justify defunding federal dollars. Jessica Bogard skipped her lunch break to attend the rally.

“Today is important because the decisions being made have a deadline and a vote. And so we need to make our opposition to the decisions being made to unfund or defund known today,” she said.

Inari Kylanen brought her child to the rally. She said it’s important for her daughter to have choices when she grows up. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)
Inari Kylanen brought her child to the rally. She said it’s important for her daughter to have choices when she grows up. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)

A bill to defund Planned Parenthood failed to get enough votes in the Senate. But a potential government shut is looming if lawmakers can’t come to an agreement in the House.

Last week, Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, and she said she doesn’t support a government shutdown. She was one of eight Republicans to vote against the bill.

Bogard says she’s happy the senator voted with the Democrats.

“But I don’t think it’s a party  issue, it’s a health issue,” Bogard said. “And if you view it that way, the decision is clear. You keep funding Planned Parenthood.”

A woman in an SUV drove by the rally, rolled down her window and shouted “no government funding for private business.” The crowd quieted for a minute before the chanting picked back up.

Amanda Krafft said she thinks most of the reaction to the rally has been positive.

“Maybe only just a couple people have not waved or just looked,” Krafft said. “Maybe one or two stink eyes. But that’s okay. That’s alright.”

Krafft leads the next chant of “Reproductive rights for all! Hurrah, hurrah!” She said she came up with it on the fly.