Residents stage protests at Planned Parenthood

Hannah Grover
Alyssa Chavez, left, and Holly Woodside hold anti-abortion signs on Dec. 12 near the 2800 block of East Main Street in Farmington during a protest of Planned Parenthood.

FARMINGTON — Although Farmington’s Planned Parenthood does not offer abortion services, a group of Christians who meet monthly to protest outside the nonprofit say it is guilty because it is part of a larger group that includes clinics where abortions are performed.

“They have the name Planned Parenthood,” said Sarah Herth, the protest organizer. “They don’t have to do it themselves to be guilty.”

The group began protesting five months ago in reaction to a series of videos in which actors approached Planned Parenthood employees pretending to be representatives from a biotech company seeking to procure fetal tissue, which has been used in experiments that have provided potential treatments for a variety of common diseases. While the sale of fetal tissue is illegal, by law, consenting women who have had abortions can donate their fetal tissue.

A nationwide protest of Planned Parenthood followed the release of the videos, which critics have said are misleading. While the Farmington clinic neither offers abortion nor collects donations of fetal tissue, it does refer patients to clinics that offer abortions.

The protesters have been standing outside the Farmington Planned Parenthood on the second Saturday of each month with anti-abortion signs. Herth said the protestors are not there to judge or threaten patients.

“We’re out here to pray and educate,” she said. “If anyone out here is in a place of judgment, they need to go home and examine their conscience.”

Staff at the Farmington clinic declined to comment on the protesters and referred questions to the company's Denver office.

“Patients come to us for essential reproductive health services. They came from all walks of life, looking for compassionate health care — that's what they get from us every day,” said Marie Logsden, senior vice president of communications, learning and diversity for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in an emailed statement. “No one should have to endure harassment when accessing health care.”

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains also oversees the Colorado Springs, Colo., clinic where a shooter who allegedly was reacting to the videos killed three people.

Logsden said in her email that Planned Parenthood is continuing to offer services after the shooting.

“Our staff come to work every day, driven by their commitment to ensuring that all people have access to reproductive health care,” she said. “They show up, no matter what, because they are committed and doing tremendous good in their community.”

Herth said the protestors condemn the actions of the suspect in the Colorado Springs shooting and pray for the victims of the shooting.

“We’re against murder of any kind,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Daryl Firestone holds an anti-abortion sign on Dec. 12 near the 2800 block of East Main Street in Farmington during a protest of Planned Parenthood.