- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - About two dozen people showed up Saturday to protest outside of Council Bluffs’ Planned Parenthood clinic, carrying the same message as their counterparts nationwide: Cut off government payments to the organization.

There weren’t any counter-protesters defending Planned Parenthood outside the clinic in this deeply conservative western Iowa city, unlike protests in some other parts of the country in which anti-Planned Parenthood protesters were far outnumbered by supporters of the group.

The small Iowa rally was met mostly with honks of approval and thumbs-ups from passing motorists.

An occasional passer-by objected “with a middle finger, or shouts of words I can’t repeat,” said local organizer Terri Naegele.

Naegele, 57, of nearby Walnut, said she scrambled to organize the rally about two weeks ago after learning of the planned nationwide protests. She was joined by several family members, including her husband Marvin, a daughter and three grandchildren.

Lon Schroeder, 61, held a sign that read “Planned Parenthood LIES to you.” Asked about it, he said he believes Planned Parenthood’s mission is focused more on providing abortions than protecting women’s reproductive health.

“One of the most unsafe places in the world today is in a woman’s womb,” he said.

Schroeder and Marvin Naegele said they don’t want poor women to go without cancer and other health screenings, which is why they want any funding pulled from Planned Parenthood to go toward free or low-cost clinics that provide those services, but not abortions.

“There are plenty of places women can go for low-cost or free service - there’s one across the street,” Marvin Naegele said, pointing to Gabriel’s Corner pregnancy counseling center. The center’s website says it’s a Christ-centered ministry serving women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy. Services provided by Planned Parenthood - such as breast exams, pap tests and tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases - are not among those listed on the Gabriel’s Corner website.

President Donald Trump last month banned U.S. funding to international groups that perform or provide information about abortions. His newly confirmed health secretary, Tom Price, has supported cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Federal dollars don’t pay for abortions, but the organization is reimbursed by Medicaid for other services, including birth control and some screenings.

Other rallies were held at Planned Parenthood clinics across Iowa, including in Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City. A small group also rallied in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Follow Margery A. Beck on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Margery3

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