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Reproductive rights activists protest ‘crisis pregnancy center’ near University of Minnesota campus

By staff

Reproductive rights protest at fake abortion clinic.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Minneapolis, MN – On Friday, May 10, members of the Minnesota Abortion Action Committee (MNAAC) and their supporters protested outside of First Care Pregnancy Center, an anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center” known for using deceptive tactics and spreading medical disinformation about abortion.

Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, are operated by the anti-abortion right wing. They market themselves as legitimate medical facilities, but in reality, they exist to spread anti-abortion propaganda and manipulate people into keeping unwanted pregnancies. They outnumber real abortion clinics tenfold in the state of Minnesota, presenting a significant barrier to abortion access for Minnesota residents, as well as for the increasing number of people coming to Minnesota for abortion procedures.

MNAAC has protested several locations of First Care Pregnancy Center. However, anti-abortion forces in the Twin Cities, clearly rattled by the work MNAAC has done to expose the true intentions of CPCs, organized counter-protesters for a rally that MNAAC had called in December 2023 at the First Care location on University Avenue. These counter-protesters heckled attendees, held signs allegedly showing aborted fetuses, and filmed attendees even after being asked to stop. As a response to this show of intimidation, MNAAC orchestrated Friday’s surprise rally, assembling a group of trusted supporters to show First Care that they would not be discouraged by opposition.

On its website, First Care claims to provide pregnancy-related support with “No Pressure, No Judgment, Just Answers.” However, MNAAC member Rachel Storm called attention to First Care’s own self-contradiction, as First Care’s website also states that “while abortion often feels like the only option, we don’t believe it’s in the best interest of women.” Storm went on to highlight the dangers of such deceptive, ideologically-motivated messaging, asserting that “a pregnant person has every right to make an informed decision about what happens to their body.”

As protesters waved signs reading “We deserve real healthcare” and “This ‘clinic’ is against contraception,” Jay Belsito, a community organizer with Gender Justice, talked about their accidental encounter with a CPC as a teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy. They faced religious shaming and were forced to watch anti-abortion videos, they said, and this incident led them to oppose crisis pregnancy centers as an adult.

Robyn Harbison, director of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) and a member of MNAAC, called for the liberation of all bodies from state-sponsored control, stating, “An attack on one body is an attack on all of our bodies,” adding, “the opposition against reproductive healthcare is a declaration of war against us all.” MNAAC member Sarah Murphy stated, “The politicians, lobbyists and wealthy donors who are funding crisis pregnancy centers just like this one are the same people who are supporting the genocide against Palestinians.”

A member of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota condemned the presence of a CPC so close to their university campus and spoke about their experience of having to obtain an abortion as a teenager after being assaulted. They felt lucky, they said, that there was a Planned Parenthood nearby instead of a CPC, emphasizing the fact that First Care’s location on University Avenue is inherently predatory toward young people.

MNAAC member Kristen Bledsoe closed out the protest by demonstrating the impact that CPCs have across the movements for immigrant rights, racial justice and LGBTQ rights. “The women’s movement has a direct connection to these struggles because all of these struggles stem from the same source – the ruling class,” she said. “When we stand outside of these CPCs and shout at the top of our lungs, when we educate our communities about the dangers of CPCs, when we fight for legislation that will restrict the ability of these places to continue harming people, we are striking at a target that reverberates across all of our movements and echoes all the way up to the top!”

Passersby cheered and honked car horns in response to the protesters’ chants of “Pro-life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if people die!” and “One, two, three, four! Abortion is worth fighting for!” making it clear that First Care is unwelcome in the Twin Cities and that abortion rights remain widely supported by community members.

MNAAC continues its campaign against crisis pregnancy centers via education and outreach, protests outside of “crisis pregnancy centers” and progress toward regulating CPCs at the city level. You can follow their work on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook at @MN_AAC.

#MinneapolisMN #MN #WomensMovement #ReproductiveRights #Abortion #CrisisPregnancyCenter #MNAAC