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Defunding of Planned Parenthood focus of 2 rallies in Denver

DENVER -- Rallies to stop the federal funding of Planned Parenthood took place in hundreds of cities across the country on Saturday. Advocates also came out in force to show their support for the organization.

Those demonstrations also took place in Denver, as lawmakers introduced a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. The organization receives about $500 million per year from the federal government.

It’s one issue, but it sparked two different opinions Saturday.

“This is the most important place I could be today,” Planned Parenthood supporter Rachel Brown said. “I feel liberated to be around people just like me.”

“It’s the most burning civil rights question of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Tom Uebbing, who organized a Planned Parenthood rally in front of the organization’s location on East 38th Avenue in Denver.

About 2,000 people gathered in support of Planned Parenthood at Sen. Cory Gardner’s office.

“Health would be 100 percent worse without Planned Parenthood,” supporter Tyler Neal said. "People wouldn’t be getting tested as they could anywhere else.”

Hours earlier, about 200 people gathered in front of Planned Parenthood to voice their opposition to the organization, urging the government to make good on promises to eliminate federal funding.

“We want these funds to be diverted to federally approved community health centers,” Uebbing said.

Those who support the organization say abortion should not be the focus, as it makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood, and defunding would take away other important medical services.

“You take away that funding and (women) are going to end up pregnant and they’re going to need the abortions that are in jeopardy,” supporter Charlotte Smith said.

Those opposed to the organization say the 3 percent figure is misleading, and even one abortion is one too many.

“These kids, they don’t seem to exist, they don’t have names so no one is speaking for them,” Uebbing said. “It’s a human rights issue and I just can’t ignore it.”

Pro-life supporters acknowledge there is a lot of pressure being applied by the other side.

“That’s why we’re out on the streets in 200 cities in America,” Uebbing said.

But both sides agree it’s important to have their voices heard, and they hope their elected leaders are paying attention.

“I’m not sure he’s in his office because it’s Saturday,” Smith said about Gardner. “But I’m sure he’s going to hear about it and the letters are going to be pouring in.”

Gardner will vote whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood. Many at Saturday’s rally in front of his office wrote letters encouraging him to vote to continue funding. Those letters will be delivered sometime next week.