Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) will hold a candlelight vigil on Saturday, December 5th to honor the victims of the Black Friday shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs.
In that shooting last Friday, Robert Dear, 57, killed University of Colorado campus police officer Garrett Swasey and two others — Ke'Arre Marcell and Jennifer Markovsky —
at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. He wounded nine others and held those inside the clinic hostage before surrendering to authorities. It has been reported that Dear muttered things about "baby parts" during police questioning, which may link his motive to the rhetoric that some pro-lifers have been spreading about Planned Parenthood facilities engaging in the sale of fetal tissue.
The vigil will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. outside the Planned Parenthood at 2430 Poplar. Attendees are encouraged to wear pink.
PPGMR President and CEO Ashley Coffield took a few minutes to discuss how the Memphis facility is addressing security following last week's shooting.
Flyer: Has Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region stepped up security in light of the recent shooting in Colorado Springs? Are there any plans to implement wanding or metal detectors?
We are heartbroken by the shooting at the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs. In response, we have reviewed our security protocols and consulted local and federal law enforcement. We are confident that we are providing a safe, warm, and welcoming environment for our patients to receive high-quality, compassionate care. We are not wanding our patients and visitors as they enter our facility or using metal detectors. We are vigilant about security, but you shouldn’t have to enter an armed fortress to get birth control, cancer screenings, or abortion services.
There are often protesters outside PPGMR, and they have a First Amendment right to be there. But have you ever had any issues with them stepping onto the property? How do you protect the privacy of patients while honoring the rights of protesters?
Protestors are not allowed on private property, only on public spaces like sidewalks. We have a parking lot that keeps the occasional protestor at a significant distance from our patients and visitors. From time to time, a protestor will step onto our property from the sidewalk. In those cases, we have a professional security guard who will ask the protestor to remain on the sidewalk. We always contact the Memphis Police Department if we have any concerns. We have a strong relationship with law enforcement.
The current political climate and misconceptions about Planned Parenthood seems to have had a part in influencing Robert Dear's decision to carry out the shooting in Colorado Springs. What would you like people to know about what PPGMR actually does because it's not just abortions, right?
Planned Parenthood has been in Memphis for nearly 75 years. We won’t be bullied, and we’re not going anywhere. Our doors were open after the shooting in Colorado, and they will remain open. We offer affordable, non-judgmental services such as annual exams, birth control, and STI testing and treatment. HIV testing is always free. Long-acting, reversible contraceptives—IUDs, the implant, and birth control shots—are free. We accept most insurance plans, including TennCare. Our highly trained educators offer free, age-appropriate, honest, and accurate classes for teens and parents on sexuality and sexual health. And our fearless staff and volunteers fight to protect reproductive rights.
As long as Planned Parenthood has existed, there have been people who have tried to discredit the work that we do. We won’t back down from our mission because of smear campaigns and hate speech. I’m grateful and encouraged by the outpouring of support we’ve received from the Memphis region in the last few months, especially in the wake of the shooting. We’re here — no matter what.