A pro-life march was held in the snow and sleeting rain Saturday in front of the Planned Parenthood office in Rocky River. Both sides had their say. Nothing was solved. No one’s mind was changed. And everyone went home, probably to clear their walks and dry off with a nice hot beverage, feeling self-righteous and satisfied. Yet women still suffer. The ones who agonized over a decision they didn’t want to make. The women harassed as they go in for regular medical checkups. The women worried that they won’t be able to get affordable OB-GYN care because people will judge – or maybe even get the Planned Parenthood where they get those services closed.

Abortion or no abortion. Plain and simple, this is a personal choice and should not be a government decision. It should also not be decided by anyone other than the woman involved. Don’t want government regulating your right to own a gun? Don’t want government meddling in your child’s lunch menu? Or how about this: Don’t want government meddling in whether you choose paper or plastic at the grocery store? Then why, oh why, is it OK to have government sticking its nose into one of the most personal and painful decisions a woman may ever make. We are not privy to other’s personal pain, nor should we inflict pain.

Planned Parenthood health centers are reimbursed for many services provided to patients who rely on public programs for health care. These programs include Medicaid and Title X. Most of its federal and state money comes from Medicaid — government-backed insurance for people with low incomes. Patients can use Medicaid for preventive services (like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment) at no cost when they visit Planned Parenthood health centers. Planned Parenthood is paid for the cost of the visit, just like any other health care provider who participates in the Medicaid program. Title X pays for essential, preventive health care services like well-woman exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).

More than 4 million Americans rely on affordable family planning services through Title X — and about 1.5 million of them get their care at Planned Parenthood health centers.

The Rocky River office that was the focus of the protest does not provide abortion services. It does make referrals, however. That is apparently enough of a reason to stir up the ire of the protesters. We frequently see them standing on the sidewalk outside the building on Center Ridge Road. What happens inside the building is none of their business.

We understand the sanctity of life, respect differing opinions and understand that civil protest is allowed in our country. But waving signs, claiming a woman will go to hell for ending a pregnancy and yelling other assertions is rarely effective. Trying to shame women does not work. If the protesters desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, they should work through legislation and use respectful methods.

Stop the shaming. Stop the bullying. Practice compassion and respect people’s privacy.

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