The snow was falling steadily but for the 6 dozen or so protesters (not counting children) it didn’t matter. What mattered was Planned parenthood was planning to come to Fitchburg.
“We are here for the children” said one man standing in front of the parking lot, the crowd around him nodded their heads in agreement. When asked if the reports that abortions would not take place at this location due to the nature of their federal grant, they answered referrals would still be provided and who’s to say that the laws wouldn’t be changed in the future?
The general consensus was that Planned Parenthood choose Fitchburg due to a combination of a large teenage pregnancy rate and a large minority population. When I asked one protester if she thought that was a miscalculation, after all the Spanish population is very Catholic, she shook her head, “Look around you, do you see any Spanish faces out here?”
She would have been much more reassured if she had walked into the Barber Shop two doors down from where she was standing. At the Dream Team Barber shop with it’s very Spanish clientele I asked one of the barbers what they thought of the protest and planned parenthood.
He didn’t think their presence would affect his business one way or the other but Planned Parenthood was mistaken if he thought that the Spanish population would be behind them. “We love our children” he declared as he stood before the Crucifix next to the chair where he was lathering the head of a customer.
City Counselor Rosemary Reynolds spoke in even blunter terms concerning the relationship between Planned Parenthood and the minority community. She stressed its origins and Margaret Sanger’s involvement in the eugenics movement, maintaining that Planned Parenthood had been a disaster to the black community in particular.
Although no protesters showed up for the other side, this sentiment was not unanimous among Fitchburg residents. A customer in a variety store in front of the protest asked why people weren’t protesting the mayor or Unitil instead. The store owner was neutral on the subject of Abortion but not Unitil, one it was mentioned he spoke at length on how Unitil’s high prices do more damage to business in Fitchburg than anything Planned Parenthood could ever do. (If there was one thing everyone I talked to agreed on; it was they hated Unitil, A man making a delivery to the shop said that only Unitil would have drawn a bigger crowd against them here.)
Another business owner was certainly not neutral when it came to either Planned Parenthood or protesters. She commented that protesters in front of the office in Worcester that she visited as a teenager decades ago has some very unkind words for her. (That certainly wasn’t the case today. Local police at the scene stated the protesters where calm, respectful and orderly) As for Planned Parenthood: “When I was a teenager and pregnant they were there.” noting that they had provided birth control and advice to her in the 80’s when she needed it. She had her first child at 16 and her second at 21 saying Planned Parenthood provides advice for girls who feel they can’t talk to their parents. Ironically while her first two pregnancies were carried to term she did get an Abortion at 26 not wanting to bring a child into what was an abusive relationship. Although she deeply regrets the decision now, she doesn’t lay any blame on Planned Parenthood and stresses although they performed the abortion they didn’t push her to that choice: “I made the decision. It’s not their fault it’s mine.” Though she considers it now the wrong choice for her; she maintains that’s not true for everyone.
Fr. Robert Bruso (full disclosure, my parish priest) would disagree. The pastor of Saint Anthony di Padua Church talked about how the issue isn’t a Catholic or a Protestant or even a religious issue. It’s all a question of respect for life and it’s potential. “President Obama’s book is called The Audacity of Hope. Abortion is the abandonment of hope. When a person chooses abortion they are saying they don’t have hope for the future, not for their child or for themselves.”
When it came to hope the protesters had plenty that they could keep planned parenthood out. Counselor Reynolds mentioned the location they wanted to open in was not zoned for any sort of medical office. When asked if the city counsel could keep them out if they choose an area that was zoned for their presence, she seemed less confident but no less dedicated. The protesters thought the same, stressing that it was important for landlords in Fitchburg to understand that wherever Planned Parenthood went, the protests would follow not stopping until they were gone.
Considering that a protest organized on the fly drew dozens of people in a snowstorm, it appears that’s one promise they will certainly be kept.
Update: Camp of the Saints links: thanks muchly.