Planned Parenthood supporters rally in Ann Arbor to keep organization's federal funding
Sam Wolson | For AnnArbor.com
Planned Parenthood has been traveling around the country with its "big pink bus" to generate support for its effort to keep its federal funding, which the Republican-dominated U.S. House has voted to end.
“When you explain the possible drastic cuts to people, they’re shocked,” said University of Michigan senior Jasmine Mancos.
She was part of the group Students for Choice collecting signatures for a petition to take to Lansing to show support for Planned Parenthood.
“Most students are pro-choice, but they take what Planned Parenthood has to offer for granted,” said U-M senior Mimi Singh, also a member of Students for Choice.
But some in the crowd said what Planned Parenthood does is not worthy of support. Several dozen people showed up to demonstrate against Planned Parenthood and the abortions it provides.
Monica Miller, who teaches at Madonna University in Livonia, said she needed only one reason to show up.
“Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in this country and that means taking lives,” she said.
Judy Paga, from Lapeer County, shared Miller’s sentiment.
“Planned Parenthood is not about birth control. It’s about abortion,” she said, while wielding a sign with a graphic rendering of a fetus.
During their bus tour, representatives from Planned Parenthood have been emphasizing services the organization provides, including preventive health care, HIV testing and counseling, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pregnancy testing, family planning and birth control.
Lori Lamerand, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, told the crowd, “I’ve spent more than 25 years with Planned Parenthood. and this is the biggest attack we’ve seen in that time.” She was referring to the U.S. House of Representatives vote to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood and defund Title X, the U.S. government program designed to provide Americans with access to family planning services. “What does that have to do with jump starting our economy or getting people back to work?”
Debbie Dingell, an active member of Michigan’s Democratic Party and wife of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, who represents Ann Arbor, fired up the audience. “I never thought I’d have to be at a rally like this at my age and fight for what we already fought for," she said. "This is about the most basic issues of quality care for women. Do not become quiet and complacent and take it for granted. Make sure we keep progress happening and don’t go backward.”
Following the rally, close to 200 people, most of them Planned Parenthood supporters, as well as a few anti-abortion activists, marched through downtown Ann Arbor to the big pink bus parked on Washington Street. The Planned Parenthood bus will head to the southern U.S. then to Washington, D.C., for a rally on April 7.
Jennifer Kundak and her husband, Jeff Cowall, came from the Chelsea area to show their support for Planned Parenthood.
“I used to work for Planned Parenthood in Detroit,” said Kundak. “Planned Parenthood educates women and makes them aware of choices.”
“The dream of equality is why I’m here,” said Cowall. “A woman has a right to control her body the same as me, independent of ideologies and religion.”
Lisa Carolin is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. To reach the news desk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-623-2530.