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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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Christine Ford Testifies Against Brett Kavanaugh; Decision Pending

If Kavanaugh is confirmed for the Supreme Court, the court will have a clear 5-4 conservative majority, which could be solidified for a generation or longer.

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Brett Kavanaugh
In this combination image of Reuters photos, Christine Blasey Ford, left, and Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testify separately before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

It was a day of drama, tears and tempers in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh angrily denying a charge of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford at a party in 1982 when they were teenagers.

Both got the chance to tell their stories to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a nearly nine-hour-long hearing.

“I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever,” Kavanaugh told the senators. “I have never done this to her or to anyone.”

Hours earlier, Ford told the panel she was “100 percent certain” it was a drunken Kavanaugh who pinned her down on a bed, groped her, tried to take off her clothes, and put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams for help.

Kavanaugh told the senators he attended no such party. He accused Democrats of seeking to avenge Hillary Clinton’s election loss by mounting a calculated attack for political gain and engaging in grotesque character assassination.

Kavanaugh vowed he will not be intimidated into withdrawing.

The Judiciary Committee, with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, plan to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Friday and, if approved, will send it to the entire Senate, which will begin procedural votes Saturday.

 

Brett Kavanaugh
In this photo combination, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

 

Late Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. While, he said, it took courage for Ford to testify, there was no evidence to corroborate her allegations.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he is still weighing his vote after hearing Ford and Kavanaugh testify.

Asked how he will vote, Flake said, “Let me process it.”

 

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, also said she needs time to decide how she will vote. She is running for re-election in a state that voted heavily for President Donald Trump.

Sen. Doug Jones, a first-term Democrat from Alabama, said he is voting no on Kavenaugh’s bid for the Supreme Court. “The Kavanaugh nomination process has been flawed from the beginning,” he said, adding that Ford was credible and courageous.

Brett Kavanaugh
In this photo combination, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. VOA

Ford’s testimony

Earlier in the day, Ford testified that she feared that Kavanaugh was “going to accidentally kill” her during the alleged incident in 1982.

She said what she remembers most was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge’s “uproarious laughter” during the incident and “having fun at my expense.”

Democratic senators repeatedly praised Ford for her courage in coming forward.

A prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, questioned Ford on behalf of Senate Republicans. She asked Ford about timelines and peripheral issues and did not challenge her basic account of sexual assault. But Ford’s account lacked firm corroboration of her claims by others at the party.

Kavanaugh’s testimony

Kavanaugh was much angrier, strident and emotional.

He “unequivocally and categorically” denied the charges and cried as he spoke of how the ordeal has wrecked his family. He presented the senators with what he said were handwritten calendars from 1982 showing his activities and whereabouts. He says they did not include the party.

Kavanaugh said he welcomes whatever the investigation the committee wants, but would not directly answer whether he would approve an FBI probe.

Brett Kavanaugh
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh gives his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee. VOA

Admitting he loves drinking beer, he pointed to what he says was his outstanding academic record and dedication to high school sports and church.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Kavanaugh and blamed Democrats for not disclosing the accusations earlier.

“As part of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the FBI conducted its sixth full field background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh since 1993, 25 years ago. Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports … was there a whiff of any issue, any issue at all related to anyway inappropriate sexual behavior.”

But Democrats did not buy Kavanaugh’s self-portrayal of an angelic choir boy. Senator Patrick Leahy pointed to Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook page and its jokes about heavy drinking and sex.

Brett Kavanaugh
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., makes a point during a hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. VOA

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham lost his temper during his time to question Kavanaugh. He accused Democrats of an “unethical sham” and warning Republicans that if they vote not to confirm Kavanaugh, they would legitimize “the most despicable thing I’ve ever seen in my time in politics.”

Trump stands by his man

President Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. He tweeted that the judge showed Americans exactly why he was chosen.

Trump’s tweet did not mention Ford.

No clear winner

Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, Ilya Shapiro, says it is unclear if anyone came out ahead after Thursday’s testimony.

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“We’re at a dangerous point because if we have no more evidence and Kavanaugh’s rejected, that sets the precedent that accusations are enough to derail … and if he’s approved, then still there will be people who think that he’s a sexual assaulter or rapist and there he is sitting at the Supreme Court.”

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the court will have a clear 5-4 conservative majority, which could be solidified for a generation or longer. (VOA)