CHARLOTTE, N.C. About 50 people, ranging from toddlers to seniors, gathered outside a Planned Parenthood clinic on Albemarle Road Saturday morning to protest abortions.
Facing the hundreds of cars traveling the road, the demonstrators held signs that said “men regret lost fatherhood” and “women do regret abortion.”
The group is seeking to bring the highly politicized social issue before a broader audience as tens of thousands of people pour into the city for the Democratic National Convention.
“This is a civil rights event,” said event coordinator Andrea Hines, 56. “In the 1960s hundreds if not thousands of black men walked in the streets holding signs that said, ‘We are men.’ The babies can’t hold their own signs, so we hold them for them, saying, ‘I am a person.’ ”
An armed officer stood outside the doors of the nondescript two-story brick building. He ushered the occasional young woman in the doors. The protesters remained near the road, as one woman yelled:
“We love moms, we love babies, if you need any help we’re here for you.”
Passing drivers honked in agreement, while passengers gave thumbs-up signs.
Naysayers honked and yelled expletives.
About 10 men and women from a national pro-choice movement showed up late morning to counter the pro-life demonstrators. The group, called “End Pornography and Patriarchy: the Enslavement and Degradation of Women,” fights laws and movements that members believe objectify women and stigmatize abortion.
“If you’re not ready to have a child, an abortion is the responsible thing to do,” said demonstrator Sunsara Taylor.
“I had two abortions, no regrets," said Lucia Liberta of the "End Pornography and Patriarchy" group. “Without this basic right, women cannot be free.”
The group plans to protest tonight outside Uptown Caberet, a strip club.
Catholic members of the pro-life group met for a rosary and prayer vigil Friday night outside Time Warner Cable Arena and spread 3,300 red carnations along the Trade Street sidewalk. The flowers represent the number of abortions daily, Hines said.
On Saturday, the group unloaded the same carnations from a protesters trunk and used them to line the grass by the sidewalk.
Hines had an abortion 35 years ago. She went through a healing course to deal with the grief. Part of the healing process is naming the aborted child. Hines named hers Hannah. She implored the other activists to think of children’s names as they spread the flowers.
“You’re not going to get all the information you need in that facility,” one sign-holding woman said, calling out to a couple as they walked inside.
Charlotte resident Bill Hart, 56, is inspired by the cause because his daughter lost two unborn children in 2010, one to a miscarriage and another to a medical complication.
The surgeries she had now prevent her from having children.
“I can’t fathom why someone would destroy a child,” Hart said. “I’ll let other people argue the political points. It’s more personal for me.”