Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Planned Parenthood foes, supporters face off in protests in Tampa Bay area

It was hard to tell which group the honking was for as cars zoomed past the site of an ongoing protest and counter-protest Saturday in front of Tampa Planned Parenthood.

The groups, separated by the clinic's driveway, engaged with drivers passing by, but not one another, as they vied for support.

A woman in the middle of a median on N 56th Street hoisted a sign above her head that said, "Honk if you are pro-life." A priest led the group of about 120 people in saying the Lord's Prayer.

On the other side, about 150 people dressed in pink clutched matching signs that said "I support Planned Parenthood." Some wore pink knit hats with cat ears, made popular during last month's Women's March to show opposition to President Donald Trump.

Similar scenes played out in front of the Planned Parenthood-St. Petersburg Health Center and across the country on Saturday, as those in support of Republican congressional leaders' plans to defund the organization turned out to demonstrate. The 100-year-old women's health care provider offers birth control and other women's health services, including abortions, at more than 600 centers across the country.

Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans will move to take all federal funding — roughly $400 million in Medicaid money — away from Planned Parenthood as part of a proposal that also would dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Protesters, and Republican leaders, have called for that funding to go instead to community health centers that do not perform abortions.

"We stand here unified for life for mothers and fathers," said Tampa protest organizer Jane Lupia. "We're not trying to take away health care . . . you can't call abortion health care."

Planned Parenthood advocates say as many as 400,000 women would lose access to health care.

Outside the St. Petersburg clinic, a group of about 30 protesters were outnumbered by more than 150 supporters of Planned Parenthood. They stretched from Sixth to Seventh streets along First Avenue S.

"Women's rights are human rights," said Patricia Gifford, 33 of Pinellas Park. "I just want our leadership to know that a lot of people support Planned Parenthood."

Lupia, the Tampa anti-abortion protester, said the spirit of the day was not anger toward Planned Parenthood supporters, but hope and prayer instead.

"We just hope they change their minds," she said, "and see that abortion is murder."

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida released a statement in response to the "#ProtestPP Coalition" that said it serves more than 40,000 people a year in the area and more than 90 percent of it services are related to preventive care.

But the group's critics call it corrupt. Protesters' signs on Saturday said Planned Parenthood lies. Some wore shirts that said, "Babies are not spare parts."

Despite their sharp disagreement, each side managed to protest peacefully without incident.

Times staff photographer Eve Edelheit contributed to this report. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Planned Parenthood foes, supporters face off in protests in Tampa Bay area 02/11/17 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2017 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum

    Hurricanes

    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  2. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar

    Blogs

    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  3. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  5. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.