PORTLAND, Maine — About 350 people gathered in Monument Square Tuesday to demonstrate their support for Planned Parenthood, in the face of efforts by some federal Republicans to defund the women's health care organization.
State politicians, health advocates, Portland Mayor Mike Brennan and others joined Planned Parenthood patients and volunteers on stage.
The speakers talked about their personal experiences with Planned Parenthood, including former patient Jenny Pirkl, who says she used Planned Parenthood when she didn't get medical insurance from her job.
"I have endometriosis, a condition that makes my cycle incredibly painful, and the only available treatment other than surgery is to be on birth control," she says. "It is only at Planned Parenthood that I could get the health care that I needed to manage my disease. Planned Parenthood was there when I needed it, and it needs to be there when my daughter needs it."
Other people talked about receiving preventive care such as pap smears and breast exams, lifesaving care after an ectopic pregnancy, and about abortion services.
Judy Karhl, one of the founders of Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights, says she and the other founders remembered the time before legal abortion.
"My brother was a doctor in training and lost two young mothers because they had botched abortions," she says. "We must not go back to that."
The event was one of dozens scheduled nationwide in support of Planned Parenthood. Also in attendance were a few anti-abortion protesters and the anti-circumcision group Bloodstained Men & Their Friends.