Hundreds of people gathered outside of Peoria’s Planned Parenthood clinic Saturday to take part in a nationwide protest against the organization.
The protest was in response to recent videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion organization, which apparently show Planned Parenthood officials talking about the sale of aborted fetal tissue. Thousands of people across the country rallied to urge the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Peoria rally drew a crowd of roughly 250 people. Organizer Heather Olsson tells 1470 & 100.3 WMBD the local turnout was better than she expected.
“I think what it is is that these videos are really getting people to realize that they can no longer sit back and pretend this isn’t happening,” she said. “The basic issue here is Planned Parenthood, as a whole, is breaking the law. They need to be investigated and defunded.”
Planned Parenthood and its supporters say defunding the agency would mean millions of women and men would go without critical healthcare services like cancer screenings and prenatal care, which make up the majority of what Planned Parenthood provides. According to its website, the Peoria clinic doesn’t even offer abortion services.
Olsson says the issue of defunding the organization is deeper than preventing abortions.
“I’m opposed to any kind of government intervention on medical issues,” she said. “I think it’s the community that needs to be involved. How many doctors are in the area that can provide these same services?”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood says it has not done anything wrong. It also says the videos released have been deceptively edited to support what it calls “false claims,” adding that recent rallies, including the ones held Saturday, were simply a form of intimidation.