By Tyler Wilson
Last Wednesday, many students and residents from the Kalamazoo area gathered outside the Kalamazoo branch of Planned Parenthood to demonstrate a silent protest against abortion.
“It’s more like a prayer meeting than a protest,” said Nate Van Kammen, a student at Western Michigan University who participated in the demonstration. “We believe that God can move us through prayer.”
Those who gathered were supporting 40 Days for Life, a world-wide event where supporters meet outside organizations like Planned Parenthood to pray to end abortion for 40 consecutive days.
“This is what I believe in,” said Jessica Dudek, a student at WMU who was present at the demonstration. “We are representatives for life, love, unity and hope for change.”
Between 20 and 30 people attended the gathering outside Planned Parenthood. The majority of demonstrators were students from WMU and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Those in attendance placed red duct tape with the word life printed over their mouths in silent protest.
“The duct tape makes a statement by having your voice taken away,” said Van Kammen.
The red duct tape is part of the Bound4Life movement, a grassroots prayer group targeting to end abortion. Supporters of Bound4Life stand in silent prayer outside courthouses and abortion facilities.
However, there were many students across campus that disagreed with the demonstration.
“It seems kind of awkward,” said Elizabeth Martin, a WMU student. “Especially for Planned Parenthood customers.”
Planned Parenthood has lately been in the political spotlight with the Susan G. Komen Foundation cutting its funding to the organization. This has increased the tension and sparked more debate between pro-choice and pro-life supporters.
“They are nice and polite about it,” said Martin. “However, standing out there is not going to change the law.”
Planned Parenthood was unavailable for questions.
“They are protesting something they strongly believe in,” said Ashley Kotsiris, a student at WMU. “But I don’t agree with what they are doing. Customers should not have to deal with that for 40 days. It’s affecting and discouraging customers trying to get service. ”
Despite criticism from pedestrians, cars passing by, and pro-choice supporters, the demonstrators still plan to continue their 40 Days for Life demonstration.
“If people aren’t getting stirred up, then the issue isn’t getting across,” said Van Kammen.
The 40 Days for Life will continue until next Sunday, April 1.
“In order to have peaceful, loving change, we must have people change from within,” said Dudek. “That’s what we are hoping for.”