In a culture war where negativity often rules, pro-choice advocates used a recent anti-abortion protest featuring Archbishop John Nienstedt as a way to raise funds for their efforts.
Every year on Good Friday, Pro-Life Action Ministries hosts a protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic on Ford Parkway in St. Paul. This year, the leader of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis showed up- the first time someone of his stature participated, protesters said.
Planned Parenthood set up a “pledge a protester” system that allowed supporters to donate a set dollar amount for each anti-abortion protester that turned out. When the archbishop brought out additional anti-abortion activists–reports say several hundred–the level of donations for the Planned Parenthood clinic increased. The clinic raised $14,000 on Friday and received carloads of food donations for local food pantries.
“The day went well and we know that the majority of Minnesotans are supportive of our work in communities across the state,” said Kathi Di Nicola of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS). “We’ve been able to take that day back by reaffirming our commitment to serving women, raising money for the clinic and joining with the community to take action that improves the lives of women and families. That’s our mission.”
One anti-abortion protester, Megan Noll, told Minnesota Public Radio that the archbishop’s presence was responsible for the large crowd. “I think it makes a huge difference, I think this is probably the biggest crowd I have ever seen here,” Noll said.
The money raised at the expense of anti-abortion protesters will go toward family planning services at the clinic. PPMNS said it provided more than 300,000 units of contraception and 20,000 breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings to women in Minnesota and the Dakotas within the past year.