(PORTLAND, ME) About 45 people gathered at the Portland Planned Parenthood in downtown Portland on Saturday morning to participate in what organizers say was a day of national protests at Planned Parenthood clinics.
The action comes in response to videos released this summer of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research purposes.
"Lord, we speak out against the atrocity of selling baby parts, Lord, " said David Hebert in a pre-protest prayer. "Lord this is just a vile, disgusting, evil act."
Anti-abortion advocates with signs, banners, and pamphlets stood on the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood location, while clinic workers stood outside to assist people in and out of the clinic.
The suggestion that the family planning group may be profiting from tissue sales- something illegal under federal law- prompted an effort this summer by Senate Republicans to remove the organization's federal funding.
The protest came as an addition to a regular weekly protest observed by a group of diehards. One of them is Leslie Sneddon who has been protesting the clinic regularly for 3 years. "We're here to say enough is enough." Sneddon says she has had four abortions herself. "There's a hole. There's four holes in my soul." says Sneddon.
For some nearby businesses, the protesting has become a nuisance. "These people are outside harassing our customers every Friday and apparently on Saturday now." said a frustrated James McKinney who works at a business next door. Meanwhile, passerby David Pauk, a Mainer who now lives in Washington D.C. says the group is misguided. "Restricting women from having an abortion is a dangerous policy for women. It doesn't allow them to choose the best solutions for their own health and for planning their own families."
Nicole Clegg, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, says that New England clinics do not donate tissue from fetuses, although such tissue research has led to strides in treating Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, and in the development of life saving vaccines.
Saturday's protest lasted for about 2 hours.
Planned Parenthood receives $500 million a year in government funding. Abortions make up about 3 percent of the services offered by Planned Parenthood, according to the organization's annual report.