PORTLAND, Maine — Sporting pink T-shirts, sunglasses and signs, more than a hundred people rallied in Portland’s Monument Square on Tuesday to support Planned Parenthood.

The noon event was part of the group’s nationwide campaign to beat back criticism from congressional Republicans over the use of aborted fetuses for medical research.

Some conservatives in Congress have called for potentially shutting down the federal government to axe funding for Planned Parenthood, a point speakers at the noontime rally highlighted in their remarks.

“We can talk about the extremists in Congress who are attempting to hold all of America hostage and their agenda of defunding Planned Parenthood and rolling back reproductive rights,” said Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, to the crowd. “But folks, what we really want to do today is, instead, spread our message: Mainers know better. We are here today to stand arm-in-arm with Planned Parenthood.”

A lone counter-protester did appear in Monument Square, holding two large signs with graphic images of purportedly aborted fetuses, but was quickly surrounded by Planned Parenthood supporters who blocked his signs with their own.

Other speakers painted the funding of Planned Parenthood as having bipartisan roots, including from prominent Republicans.

“Richard Nixon led an effort to provide family planning funding across the country because he recognized there was a real need to provide low-income women with access to reproductive health care services. It improved their lives. It improved the lives of their families,” said Nicole Clegg, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “For 50 years this funding has been available and Planned Parenthood has been a linchpin in the success of that program.”

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.