National anti-abortion group, Operation Save America, is set to hold its annual conference in Rochester this week.
Planned Parenthood and gay-friendly churches are among several locations in Monroe County to be targeted with protests, but, local officials say no trouble is expected.
Up to 200 people from the national organization will join with local pro-life group Rescue Rochester to kick off the week-long conference this Wednesday.
Rescue Rochester member Mike Warren says there’s no easy answer to the issue of abortions, but one thing is clear, it won’t be solved politically any time soon.
He says it’s up to the church.
“We’ve embraced death as a solution for so long that the gospel really has to impact people’s hearts and it’s got to come through the church. The church is the one entity that can really impart the value of life and the sanctity of life.”
At Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Erin Cabral says protests are part of the norm, and it will be business as usual.
“It’s actually not disruptive because protest activity is part of our business, so throughout the entire protest we’ll be operating business as usual,” says Cabral.
“Whether it’s one protester or 100, it doesn’t impact on our ability to deliver health care and we always ensure that our patients know that.”
She says events like this are generally peaceful, but it does make some patients uncomfortable. And, it’s important to remember that not all of their clients are there for abortion services.
“People come to us for a variety of reasons such as cancer screenings for cervical cancer, breast health screenings, rape crisis service, birth control, family planning counseling.”
Cabral says the clinic does not encourage counter protests during events like this. She says it just adds to the anxiety of patients who may already be nervous about the demonstrations.
“It just creates a chaotic environment for our patients. They don’t necessarily see pro-choice and anti-choice protesters, they see a large group of people that will impact their confidentiality and potentially their safety.”
Protests are set to run throughout the community for a week and Rescue Rochester member Mike Warren says among the events will be a memorial service for an unborn child. He says this could include an open casket containing an aborted fetus.
Warren says although this may be confronting for some, his group sees it as a start to the healing process.
“When women, or men who’ve been involved in an abortion decision, come and that reality hits them when they see that little baby, that’s the start of healing. It’s like that callous over your heart, that hidden area is exposed.”
Operation Save America members will be in Rochester until July 31st.