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Pro-Life Supporters Protest Planned Parenthood Downtown

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pro-life supporters who want Planned Parenthood to be defunded protested downtown Saturday morning.

The rally began around 9 a.m. outside a Planned Parenthood facility on Liberty Avenue. It was one of multiple anti-Planned Parenthood rallies being held across the country Saturday, coordinated by the #ProtestPP coalition.

The coalition does not want Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding and says the funding should be given to federally qualified health centers that do not perform abortions.

"Within a 5-mile radius of this facility, there are 12 other centers that provide better healthcare," Tim Barr, the leader of the protest with 40 Days for Life Pittsburgh, said. "[Planned Parenthood] say they provide healthcare, but yet they provide very little."

"We don't want the money taken away from women," Barr added. "We want it redirected toward centers that don't hurt women."

Jessica Semler, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania, said Planned Parenthood doesn't receive federal money or state money for abortions, unless it is a case of rape or incest.

"What folks are protesting today is womens' access to care for breast exams, Pap smears, birth control, STI testing and treatment, preventative health care services," Semler said.

Protesters stood on the sidewalk outside the facility, many holding signs that said "Pro-Woman, Pro-Life" and "Defund Planned Parenthood." Other signs read "Abortion hurts women," "Adoption: the loving option," and "babies are beautiful." Instead of chants or speeches, there were prayers.

Barr said his faith has been renewed with the Trump administration, and he is hopeful and confident that a Supreme Court ruling would go in their favor.

"My faith is very much renewed. I think there's been some divine intervention in the election of our president, and I think the plan he has in place will protect all human beings," Barr said.

Semler says she's still optimistic about Planned Parenthood's future.

"People really support Planned Parenthood, and with the recent election, people have come to our aid and come to support us," she said. "Right here in Pittsburgh, we've had over 600 folks apply to be volunteers with us since the election, so we've never felt more support."

Some Planned Parenthood supporters also gathered on a nearby sidewalk, holding signs that read, "Stop war on women," "Our bodies, our choice" and "Women must decide their fate."

(Photo Credit: Brian Smithmyer/KDKA)

An "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" celebration was held right down the street from the rally. Supporters wrote letters to Pennsylvania senators and Governor Tom Wolf, and they looked up state representatives to talk to about Planned Parenthood.

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