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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

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)

Next Story

Washington Becomes First State to Approve Composting of Human Remains

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree

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Katrina Spade, who promotes using composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains, poses in a cemetery in Seattle as she displays a sample of compost material left from the decomposition of a cow using wood chips, alfalfa and straw, April 19, 2019. VOA

Ashes to ashes, guts to dirt.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.

It allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil in a span of several weeks.

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

“It gives meaning and use to what happens to our bodies after death,” said Nora Menkin, executive director of the Seattle-based People’s Memorial Association, which helps people plan for funerals.

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill into law at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., May 21, 2019, that allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into soil in a span of several weeks. VOA

Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land.

“That’s a serious weight on the Earth and the environment as your final farewell,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Democrat who sponsored the measure.

Origins of human composting

He said the legislation was inspired by his neighbor Katrina Spade, who was an architecture graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, when she began researching the funeral industry. She came up with the idea for human composting, modeling it on a practice farmers have long used to dispose of livestock.

She tweaked the process and found that wood chips, alfalfa and straw created a mixture of nitrogen and carbon that accelerates natural decomposition when a body is placed in a temperature- and moisture-controlled vessel and rotated.

A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study. In 2017, Spade founded Recompose, a company working to bring the concept to the public. It’s working on raising nearly $7 million to establish a facility in Seattle and begin to expand elsewhere, she said.

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A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study. Pixabay

State law previously dictated that remains be disposed of by burial or cremation. The law, which takes effect in May 2020, added composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis, a process already legal in 19 other states. The latter uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.

Angry emails

Cemeteries across the country are allowed to offer natural or “green” burials, by which people are buried in biodegradable shrouds or caskets without being embalmed. Composting could be a good option in cities where cemetery land is scarce, Pedersen said. Spade described it as “the urban equivalent to natural burial.”

The state senator said he has received angry emails from people who object to the idea, calling it undignified or disgusting. “The image they have is that you’re going to toss Uncle Henry out in the backyard and cover him with food scraps,” Pedersen said. To the contrary, he said, the process will be respectful.

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Recompose’s website envisions an atrium-like space where bodies are composted in compartments stacked in a honeycomb design. Families will be able to visit, providing an emotional connection typically missing at crematoriums, the company says.

“It’s an interesting concept,” said Edward Bixby, president of the Placerville, California-based Green Burial Council. “I’m curious to see how well it’s received.” (VOA)