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Anti-abortion Activists and supporters of a Woman’s right choose staged demonstrations in US

Anti-abortion activists and supporters of a woman's right to choose staged demonstrations in dozens of U.S. cities Saturday

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In Raleigh, North Carolina, an annual NAACP demonstration turned into a Planned Parenthood rally as well as other causes. (Courtesy Bryan Regan) VOA
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Anti-abortion activists and supporters of a woman’s right to choose staged demonstrations in dozens of U.S. cities Saturday, with the nonprofit group Planned Parenthood at the center of the discussion.

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Anti-abortion activists organized rallies in more than 200 locations Saturday, according to one of the national organizers, Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society. The activists are calling for the federal government to stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. It is something U.S. President Donald Trump has said he wants to do.

Outside Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. Saturday, anti-abortion rights protesters gathered, calling for to end federal funding to the organization. They were met in many locations by counterprotesters, including Evansville, Indiana, where an estimated 130 supporters turned out and about 60 opponents. VOA

Meanwhile, pro-choice activists organized in many of the same locations to express support for the nonprofit, which provides a number of reproductive health services such as pregnancy testing, birth control, and breast exams at hundreds of locations across the United States.

Planned Parenthood does not get federal funding for abortions, but Medicaid, a government health care subsidy for low-income families, pays into Planned Parenthood’s other services. Critics say those funds help subsidize the more than 300,000 abortions the organization provides each year.

Dueling demonstrations

In some cities the protesters lined up on opposite sides of a major roadway and held up their signs to passing motorists. Many of the Planned Parenthood supporters wore pink knitted caps that have become their symbol of solidarity.

Outside Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. Saturday, anti-abortion rights protesters gathered, calling for to end federal funding for the organization. They were met in many locations by counterprotesters, including Evansville, Indiana, where an estimates 130 supporters turned out and about 60 opponents. VOA

In some cities, such as Evansville, Indiana, turnout was small on both sides. Karen Meacham, a Planned Parenthood supporter who brought her 11-year-old daughter to the protest, notes that Indiana is the home state of Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime abortion opponent.

Still, Meacham says, there were as many as 130 Planned Parenthood supporters at the Evansville event, as opposed to about 60 against.

The anti-abortion activists, she said, “were mostly older people and they didn’t stay out as long as we did. … The pro-choice turnout was actually really good for our small, conservative city.”

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In Fort Collins, Colorado, about 1,000 people turned out in Old Town Square, far from the local Planned Parenthood facility. Supporter Lauren Farley said the measure was taken to avoid disturbing people seeking services at the clinic.

Colorado Senator John Kefalas and Representative Joann Ginal both spoke at the rally. Ginal told the crowd, “We cannot go backwards.” She added that voices of support for women’s reproductive rights are more important now than ever.

Farley, who came to the rally with her mother and sister, said the dueling demonstrators were largely peaceful.

“One solitary guy shouted ‘baby killers’ at us a few times,” she said. “He was largely ignored.”

Outside Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. Saturday, anti-abortion rights protesters gathered, calling for to end federal funding to the organization. They were met in many locations by counterprotesters, including Evansville, Indiana, where an estimated 130 supporters turned out and 60 opponents. VOA

Rally outside clinic

Meanwhile, several dozen anti-abortion activists gathered directly outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, several kilometers away. The demonstrators held signs saying “choose life” and “stop abortion now.”

Anti-abortion activist Kevin Williams, who organized the protest at the Fort Collins clinic, told the local newspaper, “We’re here to help these girls. We’re not here to judge them or condemn. We are here to help and to let them know that there’s alternatives to abortion.”

The pro-choice/anti-abortion issues that the rallies settled into, however, distressed Charsey Cole, who attended a rally in Sacramento, California. The Sacramento Bee reported about 15 anti-abortion activists faced off with some 200 Planned Parenthood supporters.

Cole said she fears the subtler issues of federal funding got lost in the argument over whether abortion should be legal at all.

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“I think a lot of us that recognize all that Planned Parenthood does and the funding they need were a bit uncomfortable with it being turned into an ‘our body, our choice’ protest,” she said.

Cole added: “Regardless, it was great that so many people came out.”

In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, Planned Parenthood said it provided 324,000 abortions. But it also said the majority of its clients are seeking birth control, being tested for sexually transmitted diseases or other services. (VOA)

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Washington Becomes First State to Approve Net-neutrality Rules

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,”

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks after signing a bill, March 5, 2018, in Olympia, Washington, that makes Washington the first state to set up its own net-neutrality requirements in response to the FCC's recent repeal of Obama-era rules. VOA

Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or impairing traffic.

“We know that when D.C. fails to act, Washington state has to do so,” Gov. Jay Inslee said before signing the measure that lawmakers passed with bipartisan support. “We know how important this is.”

The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to gut U.S. rules that meant to prevent broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

ALSO READ: What will be the Fate of Net Neutrality after Being Repealed?

Because the FCC prohibited state laws from contradicting its decision, opponents of the Washington law have said it would lead to lawsuits.

Net-neutrality
Inslee said he was confident of its legality, saying “the states have a full right to protect their citizens.” Pixabay

Oregon law has not been signed

The new law also requires internet providers to disclose information about their management practices, performance, and commercial terms. Violations would be enforceable under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

While several states introduced similar measures this year seeking to protect net neutrality, only Oregon and Washington passed bills. But Oregon’s measure wouldn’t put any new requirements on internet providers.

It would stop state agencies from buying internet service from any company that blocks or prioritizes specific content or apps, starting in 2019. It’s unclear when Oregon’s measure would be signed into law.

Washington state was among more than 20 states and the District of Columbia that sued in January to try and block the FCC’s action. There are also efforts by Democrats to undo the move in Congress.

Net-neutrality
Governors in five states — Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Montana, and Vermont — have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Zuckerberg in favor of 100 percent net neutrality

Expect new rules by mid-June

Big telecom companies have said net neutrality rules could undermine investment in broadband and introduce uncertainty about what are acceptable business practices. Net-neutrality advocates say the FCC decision would harm innovation and make it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests.

The FCC’s new rules are not expected to go into effect until later this spring. Washington’s law will take effect mid-June.

Messages left with the Broadband Communications Association of Washington, which opposed the bill, were not immediately returned. (VOA)