In the morning on August 27, people from the New Haven community came together to celebrate Women’s Equality Day proactively by spending the morning doing clinic defense at the local Planned Parenthood. The clinic has been under attack by anti-choice bigots for over a decade, and in 2015, the community, with the help of feminist organization Women Organized to Resist and Defend, decided to start coming together to fight back.
The August 27 action was one of many mass clinic defense actions WORD has held, but certainly one of the more effective ones. The people involved were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and of many ages and genders. The presence, intervention and messaging of the pro-choice community greatly outnumbered the bigots. Very importantly, supporters of the clinic were able to intervene to line the street with posters containing positive messages before the bigots could arrive to inundate the neighborhood with gruesome photoshopped images and hateful messages.
When the bigots arrived, the community was there to document and oversee any attempts they made at harassing workers and patients, as well as to escort patients to the clinic away from the harassers. The majority of the participants formed a long line of banners and placards along the busy Whitney Avenue in front of the clinic, featuring text like “Healthcare is a right!” and “Stand with Planned Parenthood!” Passing cars honked enthusiastically in support of the positive display.
People left the action with a positive feeling and a desire to come back and do clinic defense regularly. One attendee said, “We really showed that the New Haven community stands with the clinic and for reproductive rights and healthcare for all, and if we come together we can defeat these bigots who are trying to stop that.”