Passing cars honked as people flooded the lawn of New Haven’s Planned Parenthood of Southern New England with banners that read “Fight Trump! Fight for health care!”
On Saturday — which marked the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration — about 40 protesters from the activist organizations the Answer Coalition and the People’s Congress of Resistance gathered to demonstrate their support for reproductive rights. While affiliates from both organizations have held weekly actions week over the past two years, Saturday’s event represented demonstration against the Trump administration’s stance on women’s issues.
“I want to send the message to Trump and [his supporters] that there are people who oppose attacks on reproductive [rights] and are working to make it safe and legal for women,” said Beatrice Codianni, the executive director of the People’s Congress of Resistance. “But it’s not so much this day, it’s every day.”
The event was held one day after the March for Life — an annual pro-life demonstration in Washington, D.C. At that march this year, Trump vowed that his administration would promote pro-life initiatives and said the pro-life movement is on the rise.
Demonstrators at Saturday’s action referred to Trump’s proclamation as a “full-on attack” on reproductive health care, noting Trump’s rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood and universal health care. The demonstration was held a year after the first Women’s March, and the two New Haven coalitions organized transportation for their members to attend the anniversary marches held this weekend in New York and Hartford.
There has not been an increase in the number of pro-life activists who protest at New Haven’s Planned Parenthood since Trump took over, but roughly a dozen pro-life protesters continue to occupy the site several times a week, said Iv, an organizer with the Answer Coalition who requested that their last name be omitted for fear of retaliation from pro-life demonstrators.
Pro-life activists gather at the clinic on Wednesdays and Fridays, two days the two coalitions do not meet, and on Saturdays. As the pro-choice protesters stand on the corner of the road and wave banners denouncing the Trump administration, pro-life activists occupy both sides of the entrance to the facility’s parking lot. Pro-life demonstrators wave flyers in front of cars as they pass, obstructing drivers’ paths to the clinic. Members of the two pro-choice coalitions do not stand on the driveway either, per the request of Planned Parenthood staff.
Cecilia Crews ’19, who has previously held a position on the executive board of Yale’s Reproductive Justice Action League at Yale, said it is important to participate in reproductive rights demonstrations.
“It is important to support reproductive choice because women should be able to live as full of a life as a man, and they should be able to control what is going on with their bodies just like we do with any medical condition that happens to us,” she said.
Crews said that, although Planned Parenthood was not directly involved in Saturday’s event, she was notified by an employee at the clinic that the rally was taking place.
Iv said that many attendees participating with the Answer Coalition and People’s Congress of Resistance throughout the year represents support not only for a woman’s right to have an abortion but also for the additional services Planned Parenthood provides for the community, such as providing birth control and health care services to low-income and LGBTQ people.
“We wanted to call a mass action because it is the anniversary of the inauguration, and for a lot of people that represents an attack on health care,” Iv said. “Trump’s entire regime represents an attack on health care, especially reproductive health care.”
Isabel Bysiewicz | firstname.lastname@example.org