On February 3rd City Pages released its “People Issue: 2016” honoring individuals in the community they see as making a positive difference. One of the individuals they honored is David Garcia, nicknaming him “The Guardian.” Garcia volunteers to “shield patients from abuse” at the Planned Parenthood on Vandalia Street in St. Paul.
City Pages has a history of shaming pro-lifers and those involved in the movement. Scott Walker is portrayed poorly for signing a 20 week abortion ban. Dr. Carol Ball is published in City Pages offering condescension to the people of South Dakota. “They live, as far as I’m concerned, in the Middle Ages in their thinking about women, and reproduction, and sex,” she asserted. In addition, City Pages has made common practice out of demeaning pro-life states. For example, they demonized Wisconsin and South Dakota for their abortion laws and decreased levels of funding to Planned Parenthood.
City Pages describes Garcia as “a towering, 41-year-old bear of a man. It’s why the anti-abortion protesters don’t get as aggressive with him as they do with other volunteers who escort women from their cars to the clinic.” Garcia told City Pages, “I’m good at reminding myself that I’m here for the patients, I’m not here for the people who yell at me.”
To get a better understanding of pro-life activism at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Alpha News sent a contributor on the morning of February 10th to observe and speak with activists willing to brave the four degree weather that is plaguing St. Paul. What was witnessed stands in stark contradiction to what City Pages depicts as abusive pro-lifers who shame patients and workers at Planned Parenthood.
Four Seminarians from the University of St. Thomas stood astute praying the rosary on the first day of lent and offering words of encouragement. One of the Seminarians, Jacob Bennett told Alpha news that he prays for a “conversion of the heart” of staff members and patients. He added that him and his fellow Seminarians are “here to love them” and show them support in any way that they can.
Brian Gibson is another activist who frequents Planned Parenthood, offering information to those seeking out the clinic. Gibson is the Executive Director of Pro-Life Action Ministries, a group established in 1981 devoted to promote life, and to provide women with more information pertaining to women’s health. He has plenty of experience being the subject of hostility.
When asked about how Gibson’s group responds to verbal attacks on pro-life activists in the media, he offered a strongly worded rebuttal:
“Certainly, those who are calling us extreme engage in the killing of innocent human beings. They loathe any interference, from political and legislative efforts to our simply offering help to those seeking out abortion. If this were any other cause, every reasonable person would see that the extreme is with those who advocate and perform abortions, not those offering to help women not to abort.”
Gibson added that his organization has saved 3,100 lives since its inception, and 113 last year alone.
Any “yelling” that was witnessed came from activists seeking to make their voice heard. The activists are unable to set foot on Planned Parenthood property, causing them to speak loudly so patients and workers entering the back of Planned Parenthood could hear them from the sidewalk. The activists’ actions were met by hostility from the Planned Parenthood workers, not the other way around.
The Planned Parenthood workers did not show much kindness or acceptance towards the activists. At one point one activist was speaking to two young women who were headed into the clinic on the sidewalk, which is public property. The Security Volunteer came off Planned Parenthood property, presented her rude demeanor to the protesters and tried her best to shuffle the women into the clinic even though the activists weren’t violating any rules. The Security Volunteer inserted herself into the conversation, and repeatedly told the girls not to listen to the activists.
Gibson says this is a common experience. He added that it is not uncommon for the Security Volunteers to use physical force to remove patients from conversations they are having with activists. In addition, he has witnessed Security Volunteers take informational literature given by the activists out of the hands of patients. Finally, any individual in a car that stops to take literature from Gibson are told not to listen and to proceed to the parking lot.
The words and behaviors of the pro-life activists can be easily contrasted to their portrayal in City Pages. It is often the workers, not the activists who are engaging in abuse. They work to ensure they can’t voice their concern for patients and workers. After all, what are they doing that’s wrong? Their main goal is clear, to protect life and offer alternatives.
To stay up to date on the issues pertaining to pro-life and pro-choice activism in Minnesota, please subscribe.