Eau Claire community rallies to support Planned Parenthood

Speakers emphasize importance of Planned Parenthood as simultaneous anti-abortion rallies took place around U.S.


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

Community members gathered in Phoenix Park Saturday to support Planned Parenthood while hundreds of anti-abortion rallies across the country protested agains the organization.

Story by Rachyl Houterman, Staff Writer

Eau Claire community members convened in Phoenix Park this past Saturday to rally support for Planned Parenthood amid nationwide anti-abortion protests calling for the Trump administration to defund the organization.

The rally was held from 10-12 p.m. in Phoenix Park, located in downtown Eau Claire. People of all ages and genders came together carrying signs with pro-choice messages; some even donned the pink hats worn during the Women’s March in January.

The rally to support Planned Parenthood hosted a number of speakers who shared personal stories and emphasized the importance of Planned Parenthood in women’s lives.

Among the speakers was Laurel Kieffer, a former women’s studies professor at UW-Eau Claire. She discussed the importance of contraception and shared statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, a health organization that conducts research on sexual and reproductive health.

“Planned Parenthood health centers are better able to deliver high-quality, timely contraceptive care to more women than other types of publicly funded family planning providers,” Kieffer said, citing the Guttmacher Institute.  

The Guttmacher website reports one in four women obtained contraceptive services from publicly funded center from 2006 to 2010. Of those women, 9 percent received their care from independent family planning centers such as Planned Parenthood.

After formal speakers made their speeches at the beginning of the rally, members of the community were invited to share their stories with the crowd. Some told stories of how Planned Parenthood provided them with contraceptives or family-planning options. Another woman spoke of the patients she saw while employed by the organization.

Lindsey Quinnies, co-organizer of the rally, said that the idea of organizing a counter-protest came to her about three weeks prior when she noticed other rallies being prepared for the same day. She wanted to give the community something for which to show their support.

“I think it shows people in the community that there’s other like-minded people,” Quinnies said. “When they come together they can have a voice.”

Cheryl Muller, a resident of Eau Claire, was one of the many who came out to support Planned Parenthood on Saturday. She supports Planned Parenthood because they “deliver loving care,” and hoped the rally demonstrated the importance of Planned Parenthood, especially since the Trump administration wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“People need to get health insurance, and if (Obamacare) goes away the patient load for Planned Parenthood is just going to be massive.”

Christina Yocca, a resident of Eau Claire, came to support Planned Parenthood because of her personal experiences with the organization. As a young woman, Planned Parenthood was the first place she obtained contraceptives.

Yocca said she believes rallies are important because they allow voices to be heard on certain issues, but she acknowledged more work beyond rallies will have to occur before change occurs.

“It’s just a step in a direction,” Yocca said. “But I really hope that we can change the minds of some of the people that are in power.”

A benefit show and fundraiser will be hosted at Forage in Banbury Place on Feb. 17 to raise funds for Planned Parenthood. There will also be a needs drive for The Bolton Refuge House.

Opposing anti-abortion rallies held simultaneously across the nation were organized by a national coalition group known as #ProtestPP. According to its website, 225 rallies were planned in 45 states on Saturday, including one in Eau Claire.