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Anti-abortion, abortion rights advocates face off in Monument Square

Abortion rights activists clashed with a group protesting abortion outside Planned Parenthood in Portland Friday morning

PORTLAND, Maine — Abortion rights and anti-abortion activists came face to face in Portland's Monument Square on Friday. For more than two hours, the groups chanted, played instruments, and shouted messages over bullhorns and loudspeakers.

"The idea is to make sound, take up space, make our voices heard," abortion rights activist and Maine Women's March organizer Jennie Ferrare said. "We're going to sing songs, we're going to chant, use instruments and we're going to encourage people to honk as they go by."

According to Ferrare, who helped organize the demonstration, every Friday anti-abortion activists gather outside of Planned Parenthood in Portland to protest. Today, they were met with a counter-protest in Monument Square.

"When they're the only ones out there, it seems like they're the only sort of narrative, so we're here trying to present an alternative," abortion rights activist Aaron Berger said. 

Shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, a group of five to 10 anti-abortion protesters moved from outside Planned Parenthood across Congress Street to Monument Square, where 35 to 45 abortion rights activists were gathered.

There quickly became tense moments as protesters from each side came face to face, debating and shouting at one another. 

Anti-abortion activists spoke of religion, with one speaker quoting bible verses and condemning abortion over a loudspeaker. 

"If there's an option to have a baby and you're going to kill it, just because there's a law, that's your choice," anti-abortion activist Sidney Venable said. "But at the end of the day, we know that murder is murder and god's going to judge at the end of the day."

Abortion rights activists responded by banging pots and pans, playing sirens over bullhorns, beating drums, and chanting messages like "my body, my choice."

"Our goal is to give the people a voice, and I really hope that our representatives can hear us," Ferrare said. 

Friday's protest came one day before a number of abortion rights rallies are slated to take place across Maine and the U.S. as part of Planned Parenthood's Bans of Our Bodies rallies.