1425 Creech Road, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Bernie Fine sat in the shade as a protest unfolded Monday morning outside Planned Parenthood in North Naples on the one-year anniversary of the clinic offering abortion services.
The 82-year-old watched young mothers with their children, older retirees who have grandchildren growing up some place else, and students at Donahue Academy in Ave Maria praying and carrying signs outside the clinic on Creech Road and Goodlette-Frank Road.
“I’m here because my mother did not have an abortion,” he said. “My mother was a Russian immigrant and she refused to have an abortion. My father and others tried to talk her into an abortion and she refused, so I have very personal feelings.”
Fine, who was born in Chicago, had six children and today has 10 grandchildren.
““So 16 people are alive because of my mother’s decision,” he said.
More than 200 people took part in the demonstration which Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice, attended and offered the Rosary of Reparation.
“It’s a witness to life,” Dewane said of the gathering.”That is why we gather, to pray for that.”
Loretta Judy, who is in her 50’s, said her daughter would have been 30 if she did not make a fateful decision.
“I did not let her live, I aborted her,” she said. “It’s only a short term solution but it is not a solution, it comes with a life time of regret.”
A handful of Naples Police officers were on hand to make sure traffic was able to move along Creech without obstruction and that cars were able to get into the clinic parking lot.
Abortion opponents protest weekly on Mondays, the only day abortions are performed, and so Planned Parenthood has security personnel to escort clients in and out of the clinic.
“It’s a day of business as usual for us,” said Char Wendel, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood. “We added this service a year ago because it is a service some women need. Some times this is the only choice a woman has.”
Wendel said the clinic has performed 409 abortions this past year while it has provided a total of 11,862 medical services, which includes annual examinations, HIV testing, the HPV vaccine, birth control and more.
“Abortions continue to be a small piece of our business,” she said. “We added it to offer comprehensive services. But 400 out of 11,000 shows we are still about prevention.”
Patricia Bucalo, 60, who helped organize the protest, said the group is deeply saddened that abortions are still being offered at the clinic. The protesters have been able to connect with a few women heading into the clinic and helped them to change their mind.
“We have reached some women who have turned around and left,” she said.
But a growing concern is the number of women opting for the abortion pill, RU-486, which became legal in the United States in 2000.
“Eight women have died by it,” she said, adding that the method, where the fetus is expelled, can bring side effects that can last sometimes for two weeks.
About 90 students from seventh through 12 grade from the Donahue academy participated in the protest, enduring the brutal sun in their blue suit jackets.
“We’re here because of the tremendous and deep sorrow at the many children who have been killed from abortion,” said Sister Teresa Benedicta Block, who teaches at the school.
“I’m crying all day long,” said Ruth Delate, 85, who has lived in Naples for 30 years. “It’s the saddest thing we don’t have tremendous outburst in this town. How could this happen to sweet little Naples?”
Connect with health-care reporter Liz Freeman at www.naplesnews.com/staff/liz_freeman