Abortion activists blocked a rosary procession to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Manhattan on Saturday, days after a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court predicted an imminent end to the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.
The protest at the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral was among the latest to emerge around the country since news of the looming blow to abortion rights, which have been affirmed for decades by the nation’s highest court. Several New York politicians, including Attorney General Tish James and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, continued to speak in support of abortion rights during recent days.
Several dozen protestors gathered in the rain on Saturday morning outside the church, which hosts a monthly anti-abortion mass and procession that ends at Planned Parenthood’s Bleecker Street site. Worshippers typically gather nearby as women enter the clinic.
But the parishioners never left for the planned procession that morning.
“As a gay woman, the oppressive Christianity services that come out to protest against clinics is vile and extremely harmful for everyone,” said Hannah Spring, an abortion-rights supporter from Bushwick.
Some protestors shared their own personal abortion stories and unleashed a cacophony of chants and song (featuring lyrics like “Thank God for abortion”) toward around two dozen churchgoers that stood in front of its massive doors. An abortion-rights supporter dressed in a leotard and a padded stomach confronted the churchgoers with baby dolls, repeatedly crying “You’re terrorizing!”
The crowd of worshippers mostly countered with prayers and hymns that occasionally rose above the chants. The church has been repeatedly accused of harassing patients, a characterization rejected by Father Brian Grabe, who is pastor of the church.
“The killing of any innocent human being is always wrong,” said Graebe, who called the monthly procession a peaceful event. “And so we're here to pray that we may be a country that respects and upholds the dignity of human life.”
Still, critics say this may have a chilling effect on people seeking care.
“I believe in a god that loves everyone, and that loves people who get abortions just as much as anyone else,” said Daniel Stevenson, an abortion-right supporter who considers himself religious. “And telling those people that they're going to hell and they're evil and murderers and just harassing them is not really the Christian thing to do.”