On the morning of September 9, the Planned Parenthood at 4001 Lake Otis was vandalized. Spray painted in bright pink, white, and blue, the three phrases all belied a gross ignorance of the issue; MURDERERS, STOP KILLING OUR KIDS, and of course the piece de resistance, QUIT OR DIE.
Vandals tagging a pro-life death threat. You can’t make this up. Of course, abortion is a highly emotional topic for many, and such acts of intimidation are typical of the knuckle-dragging proto-expression one might expect when raw, stunted emotions are allowed to do the brain’s work.
Katie Rogers is communications director for Planned Parenthood’s northwest region. She says she can’t remember this kind of aggression toward the organization.
“I can’t think of a time when we saw these types of threats and graffiti on our health center in Alaska,” she says. “But I think for everybody, we recognize that this is a time of heightened rhetoric and some hostility against abortion providers and patients.”
Rogers says the vandalism wasn’t as a total shock to Lake Otis staff. “They had seen protests over the past few weekends out in front of the health center,” she says. “This was sort of an add-on to what people were seeing over the weekend.”
The morning of discovery, security and law enforcement were quickly made aware and Planned Parenthood opened a few short hours after for services as usual that day.
While much hullabaloo is made about abortive options, never does the opposition bother to include the entire spectrum of services Planned Parenthood provides. The organization’s 2019 Annual Report shows that more than 7,500 patients were seen in 4 health centers in Alaska. The overwhelming majority of visits are categorized as non-abortive family planning and birth control. Second-highest reason given for visit in 2019 was for STI/HIV screening, a vital service offered in a state that has ranked either first or second for chlamydia every year since 2000. Then, abortive services, followed by and annual exam and cancer screenings and gender-affirming hormone treatment.
Additionally, the organization says its 26 peer educators reached 2,490 Alaskan youth, teaching sexual health education and social justice advocacy. Youth giving youth “The Talk”. It’s enough to make pro-life parents take to the streets like they did to protest the Clinton-era CDC’s Condom Availability Program in high schools. In 2010, those same Pro-Life parents would rally behind thrice-knocked-up-out-of-wedlock Bristol Palin’s $30,000-a-pop teenage abstinence speeches.
In the absence of sensical education, sexual health experts like Dr. Debra Herbenick deduce the cause of rising and disturbing trends like choking: “In a country where porn stands in for sex education and family conversations about sex, some young people do what they see in porn,” she said.
All because Pro-Life parents don’t believe in one of dozens of services Planned Parenthood provides.
Meanwhile, back on Lake Otis, it’s business as usual, undeterred.
“I think people are going to have their opinions,” Rogers says. “What matters most to us is that our doors stay open, that we provide care to people who need it, that our patients feel safe and protected, that our staff feel safe. That’s really what we care most about, being able to provide the care people need in the communities they need it, and to provide a safe experience.”