Thousands Rally in NYC For and Against Federal Funding of Planned Parenthood

Thousands of people protested Saturday in Washington Square Park in support of Planned Parenthood as a silent protest against federal funding for the group was held at the Magaret Sanger Clinic in Lower Manhattan.

The rallies were part of a series of nationwide demonstrations that drew thousands of people. 

About 24 #DefundPP protesters marched in front of the Sanger Center in Lower Manhattan at around 10 a.m., brandishing signs that read "Pro women, pro peace, pro earth, and pro life." Some signs questioned the validity of the women's health organization, one of which said "Defund PP, Redirect $ to real healthcare." A group of 20 protesters lined the front of a White Plains Planned Parenthood clinic waving anti-abortion signs.

Demonstrators called on President Donald Trump to strip the organization of all federal funding and reallocate the funds to health centers that help disadvantaged women, but do not provide abortions.

In contrast, 300 protesters in support of Planned Parenthood crowded Bleecker Street holding white signs that said "NYC for Abortion Rights." 

Thousands more flooded Washington Square Park for a peaceful counterprotest in response to the #DefundPP rallies taking place nationwide. Pink hats and signs that read "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" bobbed throughout the crowd.

Ellie Philips, a co-organizer of the counter demonstration, said she arranged the rally because it's important for others to understand the total impact of defunding a vital organization utilized by so many.

"Safe and legal access to abortion is important. It is a right, and it is the law of the land in this country, but it's so much more than that," she said. "It's about people who live below the poverty line, it's largely people of color, its the trans community. For so many people, this is the place they go to for their healthcare."

Several speakers addressed the lively crowd, including Daily Show co-creator Liz Winstead and "The Vagina Monologues" playwright Eve Ensler. All of the speeches emphasized the same message: Defunding Planned Parenthood would lead to a dearth of resources for those who aren't able to easily afford or access them.

"Barriers to healthcare, particularly for people who are low-income, people of color and transgender individuals, are already issues," said activist Sharron Cooks, who also founded Make Our Lives Easier, a company that provides access to resources for transgender women of color. "Defunding any health organization is going to have a very critical impact on those communities."

Police said five people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in Washington Square Park, according to preliminary numbers. 

A pro-immigrant rally also took place in Washington Square Park Saturday afternoon. Thousands of demonstrators held signs in favor of immigration while chanting "No ban on stolen land!" to the beat of a drum. The demonstration comes just days after the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of Trump's travel ban.

Designers showed their support for the women's nonprofit organization at the kickoff of New York Fashion Week Thursday by wearing pink pins that said "Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood". More than 40 designers and brands sported the pins on their lapels, including Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch and Zac Posen.

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