Depending on who you ask, 40 Days of Harassment or40 Days For Life
have been in full swing since September 22, with anti-choice groups gathering outside Planned Parenthood clinics to protest their abortion services all over the nation.
What's it like at Planned Parenthood's spanking new and controversial Prevention Park facilities at 4600 Gulf Freeway? Pretty quiet, actually.
Neal Parker, one of two Planned Parenthood volunteers posted at both entrances of the gated parking, told Hair Balls that for a Thursday morning the small group of prolifers congregated at Prevention Park was normal.
Parker said he's been volunteering since 1999 and in his relative experience the majority of demonstrators are white, female and Catholic. While we were there, the white females certainly outnumbered the males, but there was also a black woman. We did not ask the ladies about their faith, but we did see two holding rosaries. "Usually the ones that come
from the Catholic Charismatic Center don't bother our clients, they just stay about an hour, doing their rosaries," said Parker.
But with everyone multi-tasking these days, it's only natural that some protestors might find themselves praying their rosaries and taking down license plate numbers of clients, visitors, and staff. PP's Rochelle Tafolla informed us about a woman who has been seen walking to the entrance of staff parking and pretending she's praying while writing down license plate numbers. She writes, "It is difficult to prove that [she] takes further action, but several days or weeks later PP staff, clients and their neighbors receive harassing postcards at their homes.
This is by no means a 'peaceful and prayerful' protest."
Tafolla says such tactic has been used by demonstrators at other health centers.
The 40 Days for Life demonstrators had much better access to the clients at Planned Parenthood's former location on Fannin, where the short walk to the center's entrance from
the three offsite parking lots increased the prolifers' chances of talking clients into taking the picture-heavy literature and unsolicited advice. The design of the new facilities effectively cut off direct access to clients, allowing them to enter the premises while still in their vehicles.
"[The protesters] seem to be frustrated by this and so they are quite aggressive about stepping into the street and the driveway to try and stop the cars as they drive into our lots," said Tafolla.
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Obviously the new security measures haven't deterred groups such as the Houston Coalition for Life and the Human Life Alliance who not only continue to show up, but dispense literature claiming, among other "facts" the "reproductive racism" found at PP. (Near the PP exit on 45 northbound is a billboard in Spanish reading "Take my hand, not my life."
An unidentified woman, sporting a t-shirt with "Pro-Life" written in capital letters above an American flag in the shape of a heart told Hair Balls she was there to tell women they need to think of a woman's integrity and rethink cutting, slicing and vacuuming their babies out of their bodies -- and to support God's unborn babies.
"If no one was here, it would make it easier on them [PP's clients]; this way, they have to think, well, they [the protestors] are here, why is that? And, hopefully, rethink their decision to go through with it," she told us.
We're told there's a man who shows up with doll body parts he impales on sticks. But not yesterday, Thursdays are slow in the protesting industry.