- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - An annual Planned Parenthood fundraiser in Fargo that will be headlined by the organization’s national president should be a morale booster in the wake of the attack at a Colorado clinic that killed three people, a spokeswoman says.

Cecile Richards was to appear Thursday evening at the event in Fargo and also visit with staff at a clinic in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, where 55 percent of the patients come from Fargo. There are no Planned Parenthood clinics in North Dakota, but the state has volunteers who participate in educational programs.

“Given the events of the last week, I think people are needing to hear … how do we move forward, what’s going to happen next and what is Planned Parenthood doing in response to all this,” said Jen Aulwes, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. “I think it will be a really good time for people to come together and hear from her about where we are going in the future, and boost everyone’s morale a little bit.”

Planned Parenthood has 18 clinics in Minnesota and one in South Dakota. Its clinics that perform abortions are in St. Paul, Rochester, Minnesota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Aulwes said money from the event will go toward education and advocacy.

“That means it will help us organize and move the next generation of supporters of reproductive rights and women’s health in North Dakota,” she said.

The visit comes a week after an attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that killed three people, including a university police officer, and injured nine others. A man has been charged with carrying out the attack.

“What we are finding, and this has been true since the video attacks this summer, is that each time something happens and there is some sort of attack on Planned Parenthood, it really brings our supporters out of the woodwork,” Aulwes said. “We’re hearing of an outpouring of support from so many people around the country, and also in our region.”

Aulwes would not talk about security measures for Richards’ visit, but said it’s not uncommon to have protection in place for Planned Parenthood events.

“It’s something that we do and that we’ve done in the past before Colorado happened,” she said. “Security is something we take seriously. There are strong protocols in place that make us confident everyone will be safe.”



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