By Galen Patterson
More than 600 people gathered for a ceremony taking a stance against Planned Parenthood opening in Baldwin Park.
The ceremony consisted of a procession from a nearby Catholic church and a consecration of the land that the clinic is being built on. The procession was a mass movement of people following local religious figures, a cross, statue of Mary and picture of Jesus from Saint John The Baptist Church in Baldwin Park to the site of the future Planned Parenthood of Baldwin Park, mere blocks away.
At the site of the building, the local bishop spoke, prayed, threw holy water and blessed salt onto the grounds while the followers watched, listened and prayed.
Baldwin Park provided nearly half a dozen officers as an escort during the ceremony, including the Baldwin Park Police Chief Steven McLean who says “whatever they want to do, we just want them to do it safely.”
One of the main organizers, Denise Riggio of Monrovia, says that the ceremony at the site of the opening clinic is giving the land to Mary, the mother of Jesus, in an effort to call direct attention to it and thereby cause divine action within the land.
Riggio, who believes “every single child is a blessing from God,” has taken action against abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1971 but more recently, in 2001, was able to use this process to close down a Planned Parenthood that was set to open in Monrovia.
In the quiet living room of her Monrovia home, the open front door shines natural light on Denise, her husband Steve and her two sons Seth and Kolbe.
“We believe in a visible world and an invisible world,” she said. The visible world being the physical world in which we all live and an invisible world, where beings of good and evil exist.
She says the salt and holy water thrown during the procession was meant to purify the ground and scare off demons.
“In the mind of the Church this is a battle for the lives of people,” she said.
The procession and consecration are the first attack against the abortion clinic in what the Riggios define as a battle, in an effort to save the lives of the unborn. “We recognize the lives of the unborn,” she said.
The Riggios agree that life begins at the moment of conception and should end by natural death. According to their belief, they find the lives of the unborn children to be as important as those that have lived full lives or are in their prime.
“To deprive another person of life because a person wants their life a certain way is unjust,” said Denise.
Abortion remains a contentious issue in the U.S.
In the late 1920s, Margaret Sanger began efforts that would eventually found Planned Parenthood in the 1940s. Sanger is also credited with helping contraceptives become legal and birth control being prescribed by medical professionals.
According to the National Women’s History Museum, Sanger’s main opposition at the time were doctors and the Catholic Church.
Sanger was a proponent of “intelligent population control” and eugenicism, also known as selective breeding, which is the belief that people deemed “unfit” should not be allowed to procreate.
Today Planned Parenthood operates on 501(c)(3) status, meaning they are a nonprofit organization, but can receive donations, which they advertise on their website. They specialize in reproductive health care, sex education and educating women, men, and young people on the use of contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases.