Pismo Street acted as the dividing line between protesters and counter-demonstrators in front of Planned Parenthood on Saturday afternoon.
On the sidewalk, protesters gave pro-life remarks. About 90 people held up green “Defund Planned Parenthood” signs toward the opposite side of the street with the accompaniment of gospel on acoustic guitar. Occasional unborn fetus posters were also held up.
On the other side, between 50 and 60 pro-Planned Parenthood demonstrators stood on the sidewalk by the Planned Parenthood in silence — an effort meant to not disturb visitors to the clinic. Instead, they held posters and flags to speak for them.
Two blocks away, Emerson Park acted as a staging area for the pro-Planned Parenthood demonstration called “San Luis Obispo #StandwithPP Day of Action.” At the sign-up booth on the blacktop, demonstrators signed up for time slots to stand on the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood location.
Robyn Berry, an organizer of the event and a San Luis Obispo resident, said the demonstration was planned as a reaction to the protests to defund Planned Parenthood.
“When we found out that Feb. 11 would have people protesting against Planned Parenthood, I decided that I wanted to go down and stand in front of Planned Parenthood,” Berry said. “We made it a public event and 300 people responded to the invitation, then 500, then 700 and so on.”
According to Berry, approximately $7,000 was raised for Planned Parenthood from donations.
To prevent chaos and overflow, Berry said groups would march from Emerson Park in groups of 50 to replace demonstrators already on sight, in compliance with city permits and San Luis Obispo Planned Parenthood’s request.
Other booths at Emerson Park were set up to keep soon-to-be demonstrators occupied. One booth gave information on contacting state representatives, another was devoted to poster creation.
On the pro-life side of Pismo Street, Genevieve Czech and her husband stood. Czech said the public should, rather than use Planned Parenthood, use clinics that don’t conduct abortions.
“I’m here to represent the truth that the embryo from the very first day of conception is a person,” she said.
Despite stark differences in thought, the protesters and demonstrators mostly stuck to their respective sides and the demonstrations carried out peacefully.