Photo credit: Anita Morrill

As many as 300 cities in 47 states across the country held #PPSellsBabyParts National Day of Protest events Saturday, organized in response to the release of now seven videos revealing gruesome details of Planned Parenthood’s harvesting human organs from aborted babies—some of them still alive. Kelsey Kurtinitis organized the Des Moines event.  “We gathered today to be a voice for the victims of Planned Parenthood, both babies and women, who have been taken advantage of by this profit-hungry organization,” said Kurtinitis.

Approximately 220 people of all ages attended the Des Moines event, from a baby girl only 6 weeks old, and an elderly woman who held her sign from a lawn chair. The protesters peacefully gathered at Walnut Creek Church on Army Post Road, directly across from a Planned Parenthood location. Several other area protests have been held recently, including at the Family Leader conference and on August 15th at the State Capitol.

The immediate goal of Saturday’s protest was to raise awareness, but also to call for political leaders to pull funding from Planned Parenthood. Attendee Kaity Brien from Ames said simply that she attended, “To defund Planned Parenthood.”  Diane Yediyd Segar of Ankeny agreed, adding she hoped such actions would help “stop abortions at all places forever.”

Many of the protesters came to raise awareness for the videos, like Jocelyn Joel, from Des Moines, who hoped people who drove past would “go home and watch the videos if they haven’t already.”  Alex Jentri Van Wyngarden wanted to raise awareness because, “I fear many are not aware of the videos and what is going on.”

But others came because of more personal reasons, like Angela Gigi Weiss of north Des Moines, who wanted “to do something to show it truly matters enough to leave my comfortable and busy life to be there for all those who are gone, those still hurting, those who still do not see how vast their options are…” And some wanted to spread hope, like Sarah Fieck of Adel, who shared, “God has blessed us with an amazing son through adoption. And our desire is to let women know there are so many amazing families willing and wanting to adopt.”

Reponses of local drivers passing the protest ranged from thumbs up, to taking cell phone videos and photos, to flipping off the participants, to honking in response to “Honk to defund PP” signs. It seemed there were many more thumbs up and honking vehicles than rude gestures.

Several participants spoke of how public response to pro-life protests have changed over the past few decades. Protesters were overheard discussing picketing events from the 1990’s that were largely ignored. And Connie Kelderman Hoogeveen of Van Meter shared, “We only DREAMED of such an impact [coverage via national media/presidential campaign] back in the early 80s when I picketed several times with my small children in tow in a red wagon…”

Protesters hope they have an influence beyond Saturday’s event, and there was a strong optimism from the attendees. Hoogeveen noted, “This is a new day.” Kurtinitis agreed, “I was so encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response we got today, both from participants and passers by. Hearts and minds are changing. This is the pro-life generation.”

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