ENCINITAS — On Saturday, a Defend Planned Parenthood March is scheduled to take over Encinitas starting and finishing at Moonlight beach.
Sophia Stremel, a Carlsbad resident and high school senior at Pacific Ridge created the event in response to the planned nationwide anti-Planned Parenthood marches also set to occur Saturday.
“A march in support of Planned Parenthood seemed like the most positive way to hearten the organization and their patients on a day that they are under attack,” said Stremel.
The march at Moonlight Beach begins at 10 a.m. and ends at noon.
While hoping the march would attract more than 100 people, Stremel said the interest on her Facebook page for the event grew enormously with 17,000 people interested in attending and more than 2,000 confirmed to attend.
Stremel never expected this many people would be interested.
“It’s amazing and heartening what social media and the public will, can accomplish,” she said. “Since the march has grown, I’ve worked with the Parks and Recreation Department of Encinitas to make this protest successful, safe and legal. It gives me hope to know that people are so willing and ready to fight for their rights and the rights of others when they are threatened. It makes me feel a lot safer knowing that those people exist in my community.”
An anti-Planned Parenthood march is also set to take place Saturday at the Vista Planned Parenthood location, according to ProtestPP.com, a pro-life nationwide group that supports the defunding of the health clinic over its abortion and other health practices.
The local group, according to an email received from Richard, an organizer of the Vista march, says they are North County Pro-Lifers who, “peacefully pray at Planned Parenthood every Monday and Thursday at 10 a.m., every week.”
The Vista march that will take place at 10 a.m., he said, is a “special event…We will accomplish the end of abortion funded with tax payers money and the murder of the unborn.”
Cita Walsh, vice president of marketing and communications at Planned Parenthood in San Diego said Planned Parenthood has faced challenges from many people who oppose their work.
“At Planned Parenthood health centers, our nurses, doctors, and staff work tirelessly to ensure that women and families are always able to access affordable, high-quality health care in a safe and caring environment. That’s what we’re focused on today — and everyday,” said Walsh.
Walsh and the Planned Parenthood organization is encouraging their supporters to not do counter-protests at their health centers due to confusion on who supports what, protests that could lead to loud, angry and dangerous confrontations between opposing parties.
“Regarding the upcoming (Defend Planned Parenthood) march in Encinitas on Feb. 11, we appreciate these community supporters who are peacefully standing for Planned Parenthood,” said Walsh.
Stremel hopes her march will speak volumes on the importance of women’s health care.
“I hope we can show our community our strong will, and that when people threaten our rights to our bodies and access to affordable health care, we won’t go down without a fight,” she said. “I hope that the government, local or otherwise, will take notice and consider our voice in upcoming legislation. I hope that we can put faith into the will of the people and that it will eventually triumph.”