They were expecting a knockout, but what they got was another round in the ring.
The group of Planned Parenthood and All Options Pregnancy Center supporters originally planned to meet in celebration of the first female president. Instead, they lined the sidewalks of the Monroe County Courthouse and started chanting.
“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible,” the crowd chanted at passing cars on Kirkwood Avenue.
The group gathered Wednesday night before the Monroe County Council’s vote on grant funding for Planned Parenthood and All Options Pregnancy Center. In the courthouse lawn, the supporters circled up and expressed how they were feeling after the election of Republican President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Fear. Disbelief. Anger.
Mayor John Hamilton spoke to the nearly 50 supporters and told them to unify, reenergize and reflect after this election.
“Bloomington is the same community it was 48 hours ago,” he said. “We stand for what we stand for, and I’m proud of that.”
Pro-life and pro-choice supporters came out to voice their opinions on the allocation of funds to community organizations through the Sophia Travis Community Service Grant.
The community service grant committee assigned $3,250 for All Options Pregnancy Center and $2,000 for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.
Although the grant would not provide money to Planned Parenthood’s abortion services or All Options’ Hoosier Abortion Fund, the right to choose was the main topic of discussion.
“We are smart enough to do this,” said Penny Githens, former Democratic candidate for State Representative of District 60. “If you trust us to have these children and rear these children, then trust us to choose.”
Councilwoman Marty Hawk moved to separate Planned Parenthood and All Options Pregnancy Center from the longer list of community organizations receiving funds such as the Indiana Recovery Alliance, Girls Inc. and Middle Way House. Hawk said she felt she could not support the family-planning organizations because of their ties to abortion services.
The council heard about 35 residents voice their opinions during the public comment portion of the meeting.
The first to speak was Monroe County resident Zachary Branham, who expressed his concern with hormones used in birth control. Branham’s mother, Rhonda, and younger sister, Katie, also spoke out against Planned Parenthood’s health care.
“How do we persuade women not to have an abortion?” Katie Branham said. “As always, we must persuade her with love. Abortion is the greatest destroyer of love.”
Money given from the grant supports Planned Parenthood’s Women’s Health Fund, which provides financial support for low-income patients seeking birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and colposcopies. This money is not used for abortion services.
While pro-life supporters argued for stronger leaders to stand up against abortion providers on the basis of hormonal side effects of birth control and the morality of terminating pregnancies, pro-choice supporters chose anecdotes to state their case.
Planned Parenthood supporter Meagan Allen told the council she didn’t have any statistics, only a personal story.
She described her first period at age 11, when she bled on a chair at school. The next day, her homeroom teacher pulled out the chair and asked her to scrub off the blood in front of the class.
She thanked Planned Parenthood for providing her with birth control to alleviate her severe menstrual symptoms even when insurance would not cover her medical expenses.
“I don’t know how I would function without it,” Allen said. “Maybe you don’t want personal information, but there are people like me, and without insurance I turn to Planned Parenthood.”
After one hour and 15 minutes of public commentary, the council voted to approve funding for both Planned Parenthood and All Options.
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