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Pro-choice, anti-abortion demonstrators in war of words outside Nolita Planned Parenthood clinic

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Protest groups clashed Friday over the protection of Planned Parenthood.
Photo by Dean Moses

Pro-choice demonstrators clashed with an anti-abortion religious group and the NYPD on Saturday morning over picketing outside a Lower Manhattan Planned Parenthood clinic.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the Basilica of Old St. Pat’s, located at 263 Mulberry St., blocking the house of worship’s entranceway in an attempt to stop the anti-abortion group from marching to Planned Parenthood, located down the block at 240 Mulberry St.

The pro-choice counter-demonstrators, affiliated with NYC for Abortion Rights, encircled the house of worship. Yet the anti-abortionists — wearing robes and hauling large crucifixes — managed to slip out the cathedral’s back door.

Eventually, they ran into the counter-protesters, who blocked the sidewalk and refused to let them pass any further. 

That prompted an NYPD response, which led to chaos on the street.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

As the NYPD attempted to keep the two crowds away from one another with a human barrier of New York’s Finest, bodies flung in every direction as the pro-choice protesters and cops pushed back and forth.

“Hold the line!” officers roared as the scuffle continued to ensue.

“Who do you protect and serve?” Counter-protesters cried out.

According to attending officers, they had sought to escort the procession of anti-abortion activists while allowing both they and the counter-protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble and petition. Despite the two blocks of intense shoving that sent officers, protesters, and journalists hurtling to the ground, no arrests were made.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Finally, both groups arrived at Planned Parenthood.

In a microcosm of the national debate on reproductive rights — at a rolling boil following the June 24 Supreme Court reversal of the Roe v. Wade ruling protecting abortion — the anti-abortionist faithful fell to their knees in prayer and chanting, while the pro-choice counter-protesters expressed rage and sorrow. 

Tears streamed down cheeks as advocates called the term pro-life a “joke.” Activists also attempted to block the patients’ view of the conservatives with an array of umbrellas while singing the Rihanna hit Umbrella.

As the anti-abortion group finished their prayers and returned to the Basilica of Old St. Pat’s, they were followed by a chorus of boos from the pro-choice demonstrators.

Then, almost as quickly as the verbal battle began, calm was restored outside Planned Parenthood.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

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