Planned Parenthood supporters gather outside Humboldt County Courthouse

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By | Ali Osgood

Hundreds of people rally on the steps of the Humboldt County Superior Courthouse on Saturday afternoon to support Planned Parenthood. Women, men, children and dogs clutch signs with Planned Parenthood logos and personal statements as they encourage honks from the cars passing by Fifth Street.

Rallies erupted across the United States on Saturday in opposition to defund Planned Parenthood. Member of the former Six Rivers Planned Parenthood Board, Carolyn Hino-Bourassa, helped organize the local event in just under a week.

“Hearing that they were targeting our own clinic in Eureka, we wanted to draw attention away from that,” Hino-Bourassa said.

#PPprotest, an organization that opposes abortion rights, helped organize 225 demonstrations in 45 states according to its website. They are urging for government defunding of Planned Parenthood. The Eureka clinic was not on the list of the 42 demonstrations scheduled in California.

Johnathan Desoto stands with his friend as they encourage drivers to honk in support of Planned Parenthood on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Ali Osgood.

The nationwide rallies prompted counter protests across the United States. Many in the local humboldt community felt it was important to stand in solidarity with the non-profit organization.

Johnathan Desoto was one of the supporters in the crowd in Eureka. Desoto has volunteered with Planned Parenthood as a registered nurse.

“I believe [Planned] Parenthood is an integral part to not just women’s health but community health in general,” Desoto said. “Health education is something that really works. Planned Parenthood is really something I believe in.”

The event organizers estimated up to 300 supporters on Saturday. Carolyn Hino-Bourassa was one of the event organizers.

“[I feel] overwhelmed, to say the least, for putting it together in under a week. It’s amazing,” Hino-Bourassa said. “One of the goals today was to make more connections and be very good at mobilizing several people very quickly, and I think we’ve proven we can do it.”

Abortion services account for less than 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services nationwide according to their annual report from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014. 45 percent of its services go toward testing and treating sexually transmitted diseases with 31 percent going toward contraceptive services.

Their largest single source of money comes from the federal government which makes up for nearly half of the organization’s funds.  The other half comes from private contributions and other nongovernment sources.

Republican lawmakers across the United States are working to propose bills that cut public funding to all organizations that offer abortions. According to ABC News, House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged “that Republicans will complete legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year and that he expected legislation to defund Planned Parenthood would be included.”

Dave Turner attended the Saturday rally in Eureka in support for Planned Parenthood. Turner is on the Board of Advocates as well as the Northern California Planned Parenthood Board of Directors. He is prepared to work hard to protect the local clinic and the organization.

“Many of our efforts are going to be focussed on working with our local government officials both at the state and federal level, because the funding of Planned Parenthood is a critical issue for us.” Turner said. “We are trying to appeal for some common sense in keeping Planned Parenthood funded and operating.”

Over 25o Planned Parenthood supporters hold up signs as cars beckon honks of support. The organizers were please with the attendance on Saturday. Photo by Ali Osgood.

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