Ithacans protest to defund Planned Parenthood in February.

Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

Ithacans protest to defund Planned Parenthood in February.

February 12, 2017

Clashing Protests Over Planned Parenthood Erupt in Ithaca

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As the debate over Planned Parenthood funding rages on the national stage, Ithaca was host to protests both for and against giving federal funds to the organization Saturday.

Nearly 20 local students and residents participated in a peaceful protest in support of defunding Planned Parenthood early Saturday morning. The protest, which took place across the street from Planned Parenthood, was one of many happening across the country and was aimed at taking taxpayers dollars away from the organization.

One group of attendees, the Students for Life Club at Ithaca College, spoke about their reasons for coming out to support the cause.

“We often talk about choice but for a woman, you hear a lot of stories about women getting pressured into [an abortion]. Often it’s not even what the woman wants but she feels like it’s her only option,” said President of the organization Melody Zimmerman.

She also added that she is trying to work with Ithaca College to make it the campus more friendly toward new mothers.

“I believe in equal rights for everyone, and I believe that Planned Parenthood isn’t about helping women,” Zimmerman said. “I want to help redirect funds to places that can really help women.”

Henry Smith, vice president of the Students for Life club at IC, agreed with Zimmerman, adding that he believes abortions are a violation of equal rights.

“I view all human beings as perfectly equal, from the time that they are very old to the time they first become what we would call human. That’s why I’m here,” Smith said. “We can’t choose that some human beings live and some don’t.”

Ray Zimmerman, senior research associate at the Dyson school, questioned the true purpose of Planned Parenthood.

“I think there is a lot of deception in what they actually do. They really are not primarily about health care. They are about abortion,” he said.

Esther Zimmerman, Ray Zimmerman’s wife, reflected on her youth in Argentina and explained why she is pro-life.

“My biological mother wanted to take my life,” she said. “I really don’t know exactly who saved my life, but if that person didn’t speak for me, I wouldn’t be here today. We really need to speak for the ones that can’t defend themselves.”

At the same time, a protest to defend Planned Parenthood took place in DeWitt Park. Protest organizer Jennifer Forte said that when she heard of the anti-Planned Parenthood protests happening all over the state and country she thought that Ithaca should have a counter protest “because of the kind of community we are.”

“I feel grateful to live in a community where it’s easy to rally people together for a cause,” Forte said.

Lining the sidewalk, over fifty supporters held signs reading “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” and “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” while chanting “Ho-ho, hey-hey, Planned Parenthood’s here to stay.”

The protest attracted members from all over the Ithaca community including students from both Ithaca College and Cornell.

Carly Siege ’19 protested not only for herself, but for all the other women who wanted to be able to focus on their work and studies.

“The ability to continue my education is thanks to reproductive healthcare,” Siege said.

Ithaca resident Jai Hari Meyerhoff, member of the band Answer the Muse, gave 60 percent of the proceeds from her band’s download card sales to Planned Parenthood.

Many of the protesters had used Planned Parenthood in the past, including Ithaca resident Becca Harber who has used it as her primary health care provider for the past 30 years. Harber was protesting to “affirm the importance of Planned Parenthood.”

“Abortion is such a tiny amount of what Planned Parenthood does,” Harber said. “I’m somebody who had an abortion many years ago, and if there wasn’t a Planned Parenthood, and abortion hadn’t become legal, things could have gone very differently.”

Harber felt that defunding Planned Parenthood would take away irreplaceable services, like community education, gynecological exams for cancer and STD testing.

“There’s nobody who could replace Planned Parenthood and anybody who wants to take funds away from Planned Parenthood, whether they realize it or not, they basically want to take away healthcare for millions,” Harber said. “Planned Parenthood is like one of the top healthcare providers and it is a total nonprofit. Nobody’s making money off of Planned Parenthood. It’s for the communities, all kinds of communities.”

  • borris batanov

    In order to get the Affordable Care Act passed, Obama sent letters to Democratic congressmen promising that federal funds would not be used to pay for abortions. According to the above, federal funds ARE being used to pay for abortions. Still another lie from Obama? Which, of course, the media is totally ignoring, while going after Trump like rats.

    • Alum

      Federal funds are only used for abortions in which the mother’s life is at risk, rape incidents, and incest incidents. This is a huge minority of the abortions performed. Also, only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s activity involves abortion. It’s overwhelmingly used for cancer screenings, reproductive health, STI screening (for men and women), health of the baby, etc. It’s not some underground sketchy abortion mill like anti-choice people try to paint it as.

      • borris batanov

        You obviously haven’t read the Washington Post article. Fed funds aren’t clearly appropriated only for ABs in which mother’s life is at risk, nor are women charged separately for ABs. Taxpayers ARE paying for ABs.

        Besides, from a strictly medical perspective, contraception is not an indication for an AB. Use of ABs for contraception is a misuse of a medical procedure. Just ask any American trained, American licensed MD who’s willing to tell the truth. They usually hide behind the ruse that they’re “helping” woman, an ideological ruse which, wouldn’t you know, lines their pockets with lots of money.

        Finally, there’s no line which differentiates human life from unformed life in the womb. Such a distinction is arbitrary and artificial, not one that exists in nature or science. Fact is we don’t really know when human life begins. If in doubt, sit down and read an embryology textbook.

        • Alum

          Sorry, I did read the article, but I left out a distinction. PLANNED PARENTHOOD is not allowed to use federal funds for abortions. Private insurance is regulated differently, as is pointed out in the WaPo article, which doesn’t even mention Planned Parenthood. So, to stay on topic with the Sun article, it’s nonsense to suggest defunding PP in an effort to stop using federal funds for abortions. That doesn’t happen, and I think it’s obvious that Planned Parenthood is hugely beneficial to both men and women.

          • borris batanov

            I don’t believe that PP doesn’t use fed $ for ABs. If PP is unscrupulous enough to trade in fetal tissue, it’s unscrupulous enough to misappropriate fed funds.

            The Sun article states:

            “Ithaca was host to protests both for and against giving federal funds to the organization (PP) Saturday.”

            Sun article doesn’t specify whether fed funds to PP are or are not used for ABs. That they are not is your unsubstantiated claim, which I don’t believe.

            WP article, clearly biased in favor of PP and AB, in its typical murky incompetence, indicates that it’s impossible to trace whether or not fed funds are used for ABs. If the Lib WP could have, it would have denied that they are. Article does not have to specify PP or any specific health insurance. What are you? A lawyer? The usual Lib equivocation, lies and evasion.

            Safe haven and baby Moses laws in all 50 states indicate that women are having ABs merely for their own selfish convenience; women now have an alternative to destruction of their fetuses, to unnecessary, destruction of human life. Reproductive rights mean nothing without reproductive responsibility.

            ABs are not without risk. They leave both psychological and physical (Asherman’s Syndrome) scars. Repeat: contraception is not an indication for an AB. There are many Ob-Gyns who rightly refuse to do them.

  • borris batanov

    The Washington Post gives Obama’s promise not to use taxpayer money for abortions three Pinocchios:

    “Does Obamacare provide federal subsidies for elective abortions?”

  • Hannah

    If the anti-Planned Parenthood protesters are truly sincere in their desire to find a place “that can really help women,” they just need to walk across the street. Seriously, I recommend they actually schedule an appointment at Planned Parenthood so they can experience first-hand the quality and scope of care that is provided there. I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences as a patient at the Ithaca PP, and the only negative thing I’ve encountered is the protesters across the street.