In Centralia, Demonstrators Rally For and Against Access to Abortions

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The 40 Days for Life vigil continues outside the Centralia Planned Parenthood as the group has held a peaceful protest since March 1. 

The goal of the vigil, according to organizer Caroline Bowes, is to have a daily presence at the clinic and to pray for an end to abortion nationwide. The event has also brought counter-protesters led by Centralia College student Nina LaBrosse. 

In an email, LaBrosse told The Chronicle she saw the 40 Days for Life demonstration on March 10 and decided to organize counter-protests. 

“(I) saw that there was no one there to represent a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. So, I ran home, made my own signs with what I had, and went out alone to represent women,” she said. 

The two groups have been demonstrating outside Planned Parenthood over the past couple weeks. 

LaBrosse also said she started a Facebook group called Southern WA Women’s Rights after her initial protest. The group has gained more than 200 participants since it was created. 

Three members of 40 Days for Life were outside the clinic on Monday afternoon. 

Betty Zepeda said she was taking part in the vigil because she said she believes life starts with conception.

“I just think (abortion) is really one of the things that we need to be changing sometime,” she said. 

Instead of abortion, Zepeda said, other options such as adoption should be emphasized. 

Zepeda said she believes that abortion services are one of the major areas of funding for Planned Parenthood, a claim that has been made by national Republicans such as Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson in the past, who said abortion services accounted for 94 percent of all services rendered. 

According to Planned Parenthood, abortion services account for 3 percent of all services it provided in 2013. 

However, according to FactCheck.org, if the total number of clients in 2013 was divided by the number of abortions, the figure would reach around 12 percent of clients who underwent an abortion procedure.

According to Planned Parenthood, one in five American women have used services provided at its clinics. 

Nick Radovcich was also part of the demonstration for 40 Days for Life on Monday. 

“Any time that the unjust taking of human life that is innocent, it seems that a voice should be held,” he said. 

Radovcich and Zepeda, as well as a third member of the demonstration, Ida Clary, all voiced a similar reason for showing up to the vigil, which was speaking for unborn children. 

On a national level, a debate between anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights often boils down to when a fetus becomes a human being. Pro-life advocates often say that life begins at conception, while pro-choice activists disagree. 

Current law allows for abortions to be performed from between five and 18 weeks after conception. 

While members of 40 Days for Life, including the members demonstrating on Monday, have said their vigil is not a political protest, LaBrosse said she thinks it is. 

“The group of pro-life people say it’s not a political statement, but when they brought it to a public setting, they made it so,” she said in an email. 

The members of 40 Days for Life said the two groups interactions had been civil. 

The 40 Days for Life demonstration will continue until April 9 in conjunction with other national events. 

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