Pro-choice protesters target Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies in Dillon
Dillon became a battleground for free speech Thursday when six pro-choice advocates posted up outside the Women’s Resource Center of the Rockies holding picket signs calling it a “fake clinic.”
The National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL, is promoting similar protests across the country accompanied by the hashtag “#FakeClinic” for social media, as abortion rights advocates try to flip the script on the pro-life movement, which has been protesting abortion providers for years.
According to NARAL, “fake clinics” are commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers, but often have no licensed medical professionals on staff and purposely coerce women away from seeking abortion services for religious reasons.
“I’ve worked in public health for over 20 years, and I have a problem with the lack of evidence-based information that’s being given out at these clinics,” said Lorna Marchand, one of the protesters. “I can’t speak to this clinic specifically … but I know there is a pattern with these crisis pregnancy centers where they give out false information.”
If Marchand pulled any punches, protest organizer Donna Winslow-Arnove did not.
“(These centers) require an ultrasound. They will not accept a blood test because they want the woman to see the ultrasound, and then they tell her lies like, ‘You shouldn’t have an abortion,’ but they don’t care once the baby is born … and that really pisses me off,” she said.
For Winslow-Arnove, the pro-life movement doesn’t seem to care about a child after that child has been born, regardless of whether that child will go starving or live in poverty.
“All they want is to butt their nose up your damn uterus,” she said, adding that no one has any right to force their religious views on anyone else and she fights for abortion rights because she sees many groups across the country fighting to take that right away.
Tipped off to the protest by a Facebook post, an equally small group of people amassed inside the center before the protesters arrived, offering the center’s executive director, Ann Hunsinger, their support.
“I’m a little surprised that it’s happening here in Summit County, but not that surprised because this is something that’s been happening over the past year with NARAL targeting pregnancy centers and asking people to protest,” Hunsinger said of the Dillon protest.
According to Hunsinger, the center has never experienced anything like it before, and she hopes the protesters will stop calling the facility “a clinic” because, she and others inside explained, it advertises itself as and remains “a resource center.”
According to Hunsinger, the center offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to women who may be facing unintended pregnancies. Hunsinger said many of the women who come to them are in panic mode, unsure of their options and see an abortion as the only way out.
“It’s a huge decision so we want them to have as much information about abortion, abortion procedures, consequences and then if you did decide to have a baby, what would that look like?” she said.
Even though the center doesn’t provide abortions, nor will it refer women to any clinic that does, Hunsinger disputes accusations that the center steers women away from seeking abortions under false pretenses.
“We are a faith-based organization, and our desire is for them to choose life for their child and to choose life for themselves, because we know the negative impacts an abortion can have,” she said. “But we can’t make that decision for them.”
At one point, a pair of Dillon police officers arrived on scene Thursday, and the protestors, who were posing for photos with their signs in the center’s parking lot, quickly moved back onto public property without incident.
The protest remained quite civil throughout, even as the pro-lifers came outside to invite the pro-choicers in for a tour of the facility, an invitation that was ultimately declined. Members of each group went back and forth for about 10 to 15 minutes after that, as it became readily apparent that the two groups are highly unlikely to ever see this issue eye to eye.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to reflect that the pro-choice protestors moved back onto public property after police arrived. They say they spoke to police to check where they were allowed to protest and did not have to be asked to move.
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