Mar 252012
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

A couple walked out of Fort Collins’ Planned Parenthood facilities on Saturday morning, hand-in-hand, turning their backs to the anti-abortion protester screaming for their attention.

“Will you please come and talk to me?” shouted Kevin Williams, a 57 year-old local resident partaking in the 40 Days for Life campaign, a self-described prayer vigil that demonstrates against abortion in front of the city’s Planned Parenthood facilities. “I have some resources that will help you. When you leave, will you please take them?”

It’s a sight that Fort Collins residents are familiar with. On a given weekday, people driving down Shields Street will see one or two pro-life protesters waving signs like “Abortion is Murder” in front of the facilities and attempting to engage those who enter it in conversation. However, Saturday’s demonstration consisted of about 10 individuals, answering the call of the 40 Days for Life Campaign for increased demonstration.

But they weren’t the only ones voicing their opinions on abortion that day.

“Religion is like a penis. It’s great to have, it’s great to be proud of, but don’t whip it out and wave it around,” said Camille McMahan, a senior CSU international studies major, who represented one of approximately 15 individuals counter-protesting the religiously-inspired, anti-abortion demonstration taking place a few steps away.

The group, consisting mostly of university students, stood shoulder-to-shoulder waving signs like “Keep Your Bible Out of My Vagina” in support of pro-choice viewpoints after finding out about the counter-protest online.

“A Facebook page was made, and I was so nervous that it was going to be me here today with a bunch of hot dogs tailgating by myself,” said Meagan Como, president of CSU’s Students Uniting for Reproductive Justice, who organized the event. “But we’ve had an amazing turnout out, just simply from the Facebook page. It seems like every 20 to 30 minutes, more and more people are showing, and it’s an amazing turnout. Very proud of the students.”

Supporting abortion rights, she stressed, was not the only message of her contingent.

“ … We’re out here supporting Planned Parenthood,” Como said. “(They’re) the number one provider for birth control in America, and the last time I checked birth control is a great way to prevent pregnancy and prevent abortion.”

While the two camps largely steered clear from engaging one another, Fort Collins residents driving the by the scene weren’t shy about honking their horn in support of the students, or screaming their disapproval at the 40 Days for Life campaigners.

“I will say one thing. The more negative responses that I get, the more firm I stand in the need to come up here and show what I believe in,” said Kit Kruger, a 62 year-old Sterling resident who drove two hours to Fort Collins to be part of the pro-life protest. “I welcome the negative, and I pray for them every time I get a negative response.”

But the community’s response to their presence hasn’t been entirely unwelcoming, Williams said, describing it as an evenly mixed sentiment.

The demonstrator recalled moments when people approached the group and thanked them for their efforts to bring awareness to abortion, quickly followed by someone with a very different opinion.

“This guy this morning brought us six coffees and he was crying … And then the next person will drive by and they’ll be screaming at the top of their lungs, ‘You guys are crazy! You need help!’” he said. “ … They can yell and scream at me all they want because God will make up for it.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Interested in the 40 Days for Life campaign?
Contact: Linda@Colorado4life.info

Interested in CSU’s Students for Reproductive Justice?
Contact: surj.csu@gmail.com

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