Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst pro-choice rally protests local Birthright chapter

By Elizabeth Murphy

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Elizabeth Mitchell/Daily Collegian

Elizabeth Mitchell/Daily Collegian

Saturday at noon, more than 20 men and women gathered in the snow near Birthright of Amherst chanting, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” to speak out for the pro-choice cause.

The protest comes less than a month after the Stupak-Pitts amendment was approved. This amendment to the Affordable Health Care for America Act prohibits use of Federal funds to “pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion,” with the exceptions of danger to the life of the mother, rape or incest.

This amendment means that the Public Option, a government run insurance plan, cannot offer any plans which cover abortion, and that anyone who purchases insurance with a government subsidy cannot choose a plan that has abortion coverage. It does not matter how small the subsidy is.

The protest was partly in response to the Stupak amendment.

“This protest is a demonstration of our outrage at both the Democrats and the Republicans for throwing women under the bus,” said protest organizer Natalia Tylim, a 2008 Smith College graduate and member of the International Socialist Organization.

 “[Stupak-Pitts] is the most far-reaching attack on women’s access to abortion in this country since the Hyde Amendment banned federal funding from assisting with the cost of abortion for poor women,” Tylim continued. “The right to an abortion is under attack, and we need to rebuild a fighting women’s movement to preserve our health, our safety and our dignity.”

The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, included a stipulation which prohibited abortion from being covered through Medicaid.

The protest specifically targeted Birthright of Amherst, a center for so-called abortion alternatives.

Tylim said the group gathered to denounce organizations which attempt to dissuade individuals from seeking abortions.

“We are protesting the Crisis Pregnancy Center [Birthright] because it is one of the most frequently used tools of the right in putting forward their anti-woman agenda,” she said. “I think that very few people know what these centers actually are,” she went on, “most people we inform about these centers are outraged and surprised that they didn’t know sooner.”

The protesters said that the center receives federal and state funding. This was one of their main arguments against the center.

Birthright’s website says that they are a non-profit charitable organization.

The protestors chanted, “Support women’s rights, shut down Birthright!” describing the center as a “fake abortion clinic.” They handed out articles to people passing by which described crisis pregnancy centers as preying on pregnant women by claiming objectivity while attempting to scare women out of pursuing an abortion.

Birthright’s website says that the group does not “show abortion slides or pictures, picket or harass abortion clinics, evangelize, lobby for legislative changes or engage in the public debate on abortion.”

Birthright is clear with their mission as a pro-life center and does not claim to be an abortion provider. Their services include: free pregnancy testing, medical referrals (but not abortion referrals), legal referrals, maternity and baby clothes, housing referrals, referrals to social agencies, and information on adoption. All their services are free of charge. Birthright is located at 233 North Pleasant St.

Tylim said of Birthright, “That center should be an abortion clinic, not a fake abortion clinic and it should receive federal funding to be so.”

Protester Wayne Standley, an electrical technician from Shelburne Falls, called the Stupak-Pitts amendment an “attack on poor women,” noting that “rich women can always obtain abortions.” He said that the amendment will deny health care, and that “it will lead to women dying.”

As of 2005 there were 1,787 abortion providers in the U.S., although 87 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider. As of 2006 there were 2,200 crisis, or pro-life, pregnancy centers in the U.S. There have been legal issues in the past with deceitful advertising.

The closest abortion providers to Amherst are Planned Parenthood in Springfield, and Hartford GYN Center in Hartford, Conn.

Tapestry Health’s Amherst Branch, located at 27 Pray St., offers family planning, pregnancy testing, and medical referrals to pre-natal doctors and abortion providers.

The protesters showed that they believe the Stupak-Pitts amendment is a violation of civil rights, chanting, “Abortion is health care, health care is a right!”

Elizabeth Murphy can be reached at [email protected].


10 Responses to “Amherst pro-choice rally protests local Birthright chapter”

  1. Ed on December 7th, 2009 3:07 am

    Isn’t it illegal to protest outside a women’s health clinic?

    How is this any different from the other side doing the same thing outside an abortion clinic????


  2. Ben on December 7th, 2009 5:40 am

    Why “so-called abortion alternatives”? What is “so-called” about them? The abortion industry wants women to kill their children and Birthright wants to offer an alternative. I don’t get why it’s a “so-called abortion alternative”.

    These protestors are really wacky. It’s not enough to have a baby killing industry in this country. So long as there is someone, somewhere, who might advise women on the alternative, someone is going to be pissed off.


  3. Alisa on December 7th, 2009 9:36 am

    Note to protesters: I talked with many people shopping on Amherst 20% off Greeting Card day (the day of the protest). All were impressed with your volume. Unfortunately, more than half had no idea *what* you were shouting, and the rest — clued in by the Stupak sign(s) and the few words they could pick out — had no idea why you were in that location…


  4. Gary L on December 7th, 2009 11:41 am

    For the record, places like Planned Parenthood and Tapestry Health advise women of ALL their options and do not have an agenda besides providing women with a full range of safe reproductive choices. If you decide you want an abortion, they can provide (more often refer you to someone who can) it. If you decide you don’t want to terminate a pregnancy, they can refer you to prenatal care and other services.

    The difference with places like Birthright is that they do NOT present abortion, which 1 in 3 women will have in their lifetime in the US, as an option. Instead of providing the tools and information to assist women in making the choice of whether to terminate a pregnancy or carry it to term, their goal is to influence (and in many cases, to intimidate).

    They don’t want women to have the right to choose, they want to make that choice for them. And the fact that they receive funding while abortion clinics do not means that poor women who cannot afford safe abortions will have illegal abortions, and many will die, as tens of thousands around the world do each year. Not fetuses, actual human beings who we have funerals for.


  5. Maya on December 7th, 2009 1:02 pm
  6. ralph reed on December 7th, 2009 1:25 pm

    My then bride-to-be, Dana Gabriela Rusu, went to a crisis pregnancy counselling center in Dundalk, Maryland, outside Baltimore upon finding out she was pregnant, simultaneously going to abortion procedure appointments and backing out for months in 2000, eventually giving birth to our first son Ciprian
    (, making her tres schizo.


  7. Elizabeth on December 7th, 2009 1:56 pm

    In response to Ben. You’re right. That was some bad wording. What I meant was that they provide services like adoption couseling, which they call abortion alternatives. I understood their services to be less alternatives than as a seperate category entirely. I think I was trying too hard to be objective, and ended up epicly failing. I will be more cautious in the future, and I apologize if a judgement was implied through that wording.


  8. Michael Röhm (Foley) on December 8th, 2009 2:20 pm

    The best one can say about this whole debacle is that the only thing to make much sense amidst the protesters is the sign offering a sale on ink and toner. Perhaps I will get some now that I see it is for sale.

    Abortion on demand is selfish and self-serving, and there’s no good reason why anyone’s tax dollars should go to support elective surgery that has no health benefit.

    It is immoral to expect a man or woman to pay for something that he or she cannot support due to moral reasons, beliefs, etc.

    If you want one for convenience (not due to rape, incest, health risk to the mother, etc.), then pay for it yourself. Abortion for convenience is not “health care,” it is vanity surgery for convenience.


  9. Dan on December 15th, 2009 4:49 pm

    Michael Rohm,

    You label non-emergency abortion as “vanity surgery for convenience.” I believe the decision of whether or not to begin a family is a bit more important than a decision of vanity, considering the time and resources required to raise a healthy family.

    Sometimes, accidents happen. Most unwanted pregnancies are not the result of carelessness or negligence or stupidity. Men get off easily in this situation. I know that because I am a man. Put yourself in a woman’s shoes. Then you’ll understand.



  10. JuJubean on November 5th, 2010 1:04 pm

    “men get off easily” – ok, so how bout instead of killing the human that had NOTHING to do with the pregnancy, we work towards legislation that increases responsibility of males who sire children.

    How bout we take responsibility for these so called “accidents” – sex isnt an accident… i mean, i dont slip and fall and amazingly impregnate someone (that’d be quite a world huh?)

    slipping on some ice is an accident, impregnating someone isnt simply an “accident” – and dont try to blame alcohol etc just as a DUI manslaughter charge for killing someone while intoxicated can just be called an “accident” – interesting parallel – DUI manslaughter = kills someone, drunk sex with pregnancy and abortion = kill somemone… hmmm


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