Last Friday morning, Jan. 27, two groups assembled in front of Planned Parenthood, a pro-life group protesting the clinic and others supporting it, were broken up by Ashland Police.
The pro-life individuals had gathered there because, according to one man, Jeff Warner, “abortion is murder.” Those protesting held signs echoing that sentiment.
Their assembly was comprised primarily of white males. While they did not have any connection to a single common organization, denomination, or parish, Warren said that they all claim to be “believers and followers of Christ.”
As women attempted to enter the building those standing guard asked “do you really wanna go in there where they’re murdering babies.” The group also passed out pamphlets that read “A Modern Day Holocaust” which compared abortion to the horrors of the Holocaust and another reading “Are you Good Enough to go to Heaven” which asked for an examination of conscious to deduce the state of one’s soul.
A woman attempting to enter the building, Jada Marotti, was going to see a consultant to inquire about birth control and to get medicine for a yeast infection. “It was super intimidating and super uncomfortable,” she said. She described her disbelief at seeing the “aggressive” protesters. “They were going about it in a way to incite fear,” she stated.
She said that she had been so nervous that she asked her friend to escort her into the building. “I’m a super confident, bold person when it comes to my body, but I was immediately paralyzed. I couldn’t even walk over there.”
In response to the presence of the pro-life crowd a group of people who support the organization arrived with signs of their own. Brenna Williams, a Southern Oregon University student, went with her own sign that read “Thank you Planned Parenthood for saving lives.”
Another supporter of Planned Parenthood, Grace Ingrid Kent, referenced what she described as a “toxic environment” based on the aggression of the anti-abortion protesters. She said her experience with one man named Nick who “had a long monologue about baby killing and that women were selfish” was especially troubling. Overall, Kent described her experience as frustrating and threatening.
The standoff dispersed with the involvement of the Ashland Police Department. Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said in an email that “this case remains open and under investigation.” As he understands it an “unknown female approached one of the protesters and rubbed a bloody tampon on his face before fleeing.”
When asked about this altercation, Warren, the pro-life protester, insisted that this instance was “highly unusual” and “none of that stuff usually happens.” This was not the first time the group has protested in front of Planned Parenthood, but it is the first time things have escalated to that magnitude.