Ellis Street echoed with car horns, shouts and chants as hundreds of people rallied in support of Planned Parenthood outside the Mount Baker branch Saturday, Feb. 11.
Bellingham resident Karen Jans organized the rally to stand in solidarity with Planned Parenthood. Pro-life advocates held rallies on the same day in other parts of the country to encourage defunding the health care provider, which offers abortion procedures as a part of its services.
Senior Sara Akre stood on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood, waving signs amongst the crowd.
“There was supposed to be opposition,” Akre said. “So we’re just standing here in solidarity and showing our support for the stuff that Planned Parenthood does, which is really important.”
The pink-clad participants encouraged others to call a state representative every hour to voice their support for Planned Parenthood. Volunteers walked around to hand out phone numbers and motivate people to take action.
Bellingham residents Bob and Karen Lazzar-Atwood were among the Planned Parenthood supporters.
“It’s definitely bringing more people onto the front lines of defending our rights, instead of just quietly discussing them in their living rooms,” Bob Lazzar-Atwood said.
“It’s better to get out here and share it with the world. I think people are angry enough that they’re doing that more.”
Not all attendees were supporters of Planned Parenthood. Roger Sefzik stood in opposition to Planned Parenthood because of its abortion services.
“I believe it’s wrong to abort babies and Planned Parenthood does that,” Sefzik said.
A woman blocked Sefzik’s pro-life sign with her own sign, which read, “Nurses for Planned Parenthood.”
According to protestpp.com, 228 Defund Planned Parenthood rallies, including one in Seattle, were held in 45 states on Saturday. Participants were encouraged by President Donald Trump’s new administration.
Those opposing Planned Parenthood called for the federal government to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform abortions.
Supporter Carol Arvin said she has faith in Bellingham’s support system in case of a major loss in funding, but not so much for other cities and states.
“I have to say that in Bellingham we have a good support system for places that help young, disadvantaged and low-income people who need services,” Arvin said. “I’m actually more worried about places like Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana;
places where Planned Parenthood has been under attack.”
These states have lost clinics, Arvin said.
Vivian Sherman said she came to support women and stand in solidarity.
“We want to show other women that we love them, support their decisions [and] acknowledge that their choices are up to them,” Sherman said.