Abortion rights activists block downtown religious group’s monthly anti-abortion action

Abortion activists blocked a Rosary procession at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Manhattan on Saturday, days after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion predicted the imminent end of the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The protest at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was among the latest to emerge in the country since news broke of the impending blow to abortion rights, which has been upheld for decades by the highest court in the country. country. Several New York politicians, including Attorney General Tish James and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, have continued to speak out in favor of abortion rights in recent days.

Several dozen protesters gathered in the rain Saturday morning outside the church, which hosts a monthly anti-abortion mass and procession that ends at Planned Parenthood’s Bleecker Street site. Devotees usually gather nearby when women enter the clinic.

But the parishioners never left for the procession scheduled for that morning.

“As a queer woman, oppressive Christian services protesting clinics are despicable and extremely harmful to everyone,” said Hannah Spring, an abortion rights advocate from Bushwick.

Some protesters shared their own personal abortion stories and unleashed a cacophony of chants and songs (with lyrics like “Thank God for abortion”) toward the roughly two dozen worshipers who stood outside its massive gates. An abortion rights supporter in a leotard and stuffed belly confronted worshipers with dolls, repeatedly shouting “You are terrorizing!”

The crowd of worshipers mostly responded with prayers and hymns that sometimes rose above the chants. The church has been repeatedly accused of harassing patients, a characterization dismissed by Father Brian Grabe, who is the church’s pastor.

“The killing of any innocent human being is always wrong,” said Graebe, who called the monthly procession a peaceful event. “And so we are here to pray that we will be a country that respects and upholds the dignity of human life.”

Still, critics say it can have a chilling effect on people seeking care.

“I believe in a god who loves everyone, and who loves people who have abortions as much as anyone else,” said Daniel Stevenson, an abortion rights advocate who considers himself religious. . “And telling these people that they’re going to hell and they’re mean and murderous and harassing them isn’t really the Christian thing to do.”

Martha J. Finley