Hundreds rally outside GR Planned Parenthood

Protests outside the Planned Parenthood in Grand Rapids on Saturday. (Aug. 22, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of people crowded outside the Planned Parenthood office in Grand Rapids to protest the organization on Saturday.

It was part of a national day of protest happening outside at least 320 clinics nationwide, according to organizers.

A number of pro-life groups organized the event. They say the purpose of Saturday’s protests are to raise awareness about the organization and their practices. They are calling on lawmakers to stop funding the organization.

“Planned Parenthood is costing taxpayers an arm and a leg, literally,” said Mark Gurley, director of Michigan Oak Initiative.

The protests come after a controversial video surfaced that allegedly shows Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal tissue.

Gurley told 24 Hour News 8 that there are many options and believes abortion shouldn’t be one of them.

“There are all these wonderful adoption agencies that would be willing to take these children because it’s a life and a life matters. If there’s a heartbeat, there’s a life. That’s what the medical community says and very soon after conception, there’s a heartbeat,” said  Gurley.

Planned Parenthood told 24 Hour News 8 that they knew about the events, and none of their seven health centers in West and Northern Michigan were open on Saturday.

Julie McKeiver, communication manager for Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan released the following statement on Saturday:

“Planned Parenthood is focused on serving our patients and providing care to the women and men who need us most. These rallies are meant to intimidate and harass our patients, who rely on our non-profit health centers for basic, preventive health care — like lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STI and HIV tests or family planning. Most of our health centers are located in rural or underserved areas, meaning that for many of our patients, Planned Parenthood will be the only provider they see all year along.

“Today, none of Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan’s seven health centers were open. We were aware of the protest plans in advance and security protocols were implemented.

“The people behind these protests have a clear political agenda: they want to ban abortion, and block women and men from accessing basic reproductive health care. Unlike these protestors, compassion is at the center of what we do, and we will continue to provide care and a safe, welcoming environment for our patients, no matter what.”

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