Pro-life and pro-choice supporters rallied in front of the St. Cloud branch Planned Parenthood off East St. Germain on Tuesday.
Kristen Hildebrand, an event coordinator with the Women’s Center, helped plan the rally. Hildebrand said they began planning the rally a week ago.
The pro-choice rally was planned in part by the Women’s Center to support Planned Parenthood, coinciding with Pink Out Day — a national day of action.
The rally started at 4:30 p.m. About 32 pro-choice supporters showed their support, holding bright pink signs and chanting down the sidewalk.
They called the St. Cloud Planned Parenthood in advance to say they were going to rally, but did not directly work with the branch according to Hildebrand.
The pro-choice rally was scheduled until 5:30 p.m. The rally went for just over an hour.
People from the pro-life rally planned to stay until about 8 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Brody Hagemeier, a political science and philosophy major at SCSU, supported the pro-life rally.
Hagemeier said the event saw a good turnout. About 11 people showed up in support of the pro-life rally going on simultaneously.
Walking with the pro-life rally up and down the sidewalk, Hagemeier held a sign with pro-life messages expressing the desire to defund Planned Parenthood, while others with the rally waved signs carrying messages to stop abortion.
“I hope to show support for the preborn,” he said. “Planned Parenthood isn’t showing the best interest in women.
“Women deserve better than a farm,” he said, referring to tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses being “harvested.”
Members from both rallies discussed the videos that went around about Planned Parenthood allegedly harvesting tissue from fetuses.
“It’s nice to have people from both sides come out,” Hagemeier said. “I think they’re missing the fact that Planned Parenthood is on camera selling baby body parts.”
Hagemeier said the videos were only edited for length.
“They were talking plainly about what they do,” he said, talking about the people shown in the videos.
“The conversation is around protecting human life and those with unplanned pregnancies,” he said, explaining that people who find themselves in these situations need to make decisions on “hope, not despair.”
Julia Walz, an SCSU alumna, said she’s been rallying outside of Planned Parenthood for years now in support of pro-life, but this was the first time she’s seen the pro-choice side come out.
Walz said they’ve been rallying in shifts and planned to rally into the evening. Overall, she said the rally went well, and there weren’t any safety concerns.
Both rallies continued to hold signs high, walking along the sidewalk chanting their messages. People driving passed the rallies honked or yelled out of their windows either supporting one side of the rally, or giving their stance against the other side.
In between walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the building, supporters came together to share their messages and reasoning for standing with the organization.
Hedy Tripp, an adjunt lecturer in ethnic and women’s studies at SCSU, shared her reasons for supporting Planned Parenthood.
“We stand here for the access of women’s health,” Tripp said.
Tripp talked about the videos that came out about Planned Parenthood, saying that they were “highly edited” and produced in an effort to stigmatize providers, politicize women’s health and restrict abortion.
“These misleading videos and sting operations are another attempt to harass women and their doctors, and to cut off their access to care,” she said.
“Planned Parenthood has been a critical resource for women to help plan their families,” Tripp said.
“Young women face obstacles to their reproductive health,” she continued.
Tripp paused at certain points during her address to the rally, signaling for a chant from the crowd. At the same time, the huddled crowd in front of the building shouted, “We stand with Planned Parenthood.”
With the pro-choice rally, Bob Helland, an independent candidate for the sixth congressional district House seat, came out to support Planned Parenthood also.
“It’s time to represent these values,” he said.
Helland said the priorities of Congress aren’t consistent with the women in support of the organization, and that there’s a misrepresentation of Planned Parenthood in general.
“It’s their decision,” he said, pointing over to the people rallying on the sidewalk. “Nobody else’s.”