Fayette County

People rally in the rain to support Planned Parenthood at its Lexington office

Tuesday's rally was held at the same time a hearing was held in Washington about federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Tuesday's rally was held at the same time a hearing was held in Washington about federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Herald-Leader

About 30 people holding pink signs supporting Planned Parenthood stood along Southland Drive in Lexington on Tuesday morning as a steady rain fell.

Many passing cars honked their horns in response to the "honk if you support women's rights" signs that several protesters held.

The "Pink Out" rally took place in front of Planned Parenthood's office.

The rally was at least the second one in Lexington centered on Planned Parenthood in recent months.

On July 29, as many as 200 protesters gathered under sunny skies at Courthouse Plaza downtown to denounce Planned Parenthood and call for an end to federal funding of the organization.

On Tuesday, Sandra Williams, 57, watched the passing traffic as she held a sign supporting the organization.

"I think women's rights are under assault," Williams said. "We absolutely have to make a stand."

Williams said her niece, who lives in Tennessee, didn't have health insurance for a while and would go to Planned Parenthood for checkups.

"It just helped her tremendously," Williams said.

The rally was held just as a hearing began in Washington, D.C., about federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards addressed a committee in Congress for the first time Tuesday about videos that purportedly showed people in the organization discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

The anti-abortion group that released the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, said that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue for profit, which would be illegal.

The video shows doctors discussing fees for the tissue, but the fees cover the costs rather than bring a profit, according to Planned Parenthood. Fetal tissue is used for medical research.

The video was heavily edited, according to various media reports. Planned Parenthood representatives said the alterations were used to deceptively say that the tissue is sold for profit.

Representatives of the Center for Medical Progress said the alterations were just to account for "bathroom breaks and waiting periods."

"It's just lies," Rikka Wallin said of the claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for a profit.

Wallin, who attended Tuesday's rally, said Planned Parenthood is about much more than abortions.

"That's only about 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," Wallin said, speaking over the honking horns on Southland Drive.

She said the affordable health care that Planned Parenthood provides also helps women have babies, and the organization provides affordable birth control to help limit abortions.

Kentucky National Organization for Women vice president Karen Conley shouted encouragement to the protesters.

"Signs up!" she said as the rain fell harder.

Joanna Cox and her daughter, Teresa Lee, both of Lexington, said they came to the protest because of the importance of the issue.

"This is worth standing in the rain for," Lee said. "Planned Parenthood stands for women, so this is the least we can do."

Cox used to work at Planned Parenthood.

"Women need access to important exams ... and birth control that have been provided by Planned Parenthood for many, many years," Cox said. "It's so important for women who don't have anywhere else to go."

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