The battle between pro-choice activists and abortion opponents rages on in the Big Easy. Anti-choice extremists have descended on the city this week, protesting at women’s health clinics and outside of abortion doctors’ homes. On Thursday, in a peaceful response to the harassment and intimidation they’ve faced from extremist group Operation Save America, about 100 activists and community members gathered outside of city hall.
Lighting candles in memory of those lost to clinic violence and chanting “Remember in November“—a warning call to legislators who roll back women’s access to reproductive care—clinic supporters gathered to listen to each other’s stories. Some women shared the experiences of their own abortions and others explained how clinics like Planned Parenthood were there for them when they found lumps in their breasts or needed birth control.
“The sharing was the most beautiful thing of the whole evening, just getting to be positive in the fact that we are standing together, ” said Edwith Theogene, national campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation, which, together with the New Orleans Abortion Fund, planned the vigil.
On a hill not far away, anti-abortion protestors from Operation Save America held up signs and shouted at women to “stop the killing of innocent babies,” with one protester even making yet another tired comparison to the Holocaust. According to their website, they have several more protests planned through the end of the week.
“The pro-choice community in New Orleans has responded strongly to these extremists from outside the state,” said duVergne Gaines, director of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project. “Hundreds have volunteered as clinic escorts and legal observers. We want to send a message that Louisianans are pro-choice and stand by clinics and doctors.”
Photo from the vigil provided by Feminist Majority Foundation activists.
Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.