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Abortion activism


If you've been out and about in Rochester over the last week, you may have seen a truck with images of an aborted fetus on it. Or spied protestors toting equally graphic visuals.

That's because the anti-abortion group Operation Save America has been in Rochester since July 24 for its yearly national event, which concludes on July 31.

The nonprofit Anti-Defamation League says that OSA has "a three-pronged mission to demonize abortion, homosexuality, and Islam." Locally, group members have been at Ontario Beach Park, hospitals, physicians' offices, and at other locations over the past week.

The group has been met with counter protests by Rochester Women's Equality, Liberation, and Defense — a coalition of progressive organizations.

Turnout at OSA's Rochester events has been lower than expected, says a WELD representative. But it has also been more personal than WELD is used to, she says. OSA members have passed flyers around physicians' neighborhoods, she says, and have surrounded and insulted WELD members.

"They're very intimidating — surrounding you with 30 people," a WELD representative says.

A police spokesperson says the Rochester Police Department has kept a close eye on OSA, and that OSA assured police that they'd be careful and peaceful during their time in Rochester, says police spokesperson Sgt. Elena Correia.

Rochester WELD has held a number of events over the past week, including an interfaith vigil, street festival, and educational events around reproductive and LGBTQ rights.

A WELD spokesperson says that because OSA turnout was low, that WELD didn't have to provide active opposition such as escort services at clinics. But WELD's presence provided a counterpoint to OSA's arguments, she says, and raised the consciousness of the community.