Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Planned Parenthood Street Fight Underway in Glens Falls

Photo by R.K. Cowles PhotographyResponding to a “40 Days of Prayer” movement that vows to close the Glens Falls Planned Parenthood, a group of counter-protesters has been facing anti-abortion protesters for the past several weeks on the street in front of the women’s health clinic.  The group is calling itself “Get Your Girl On” and intends to carry out their own “40 Days of Appreciation.”

Coinciding with two Glens Falls Chronicle stories pro-choice protesters called “anti-abortion” and “promotional”, the “40 Days of Prayer” campaign has turned-up the pressure outside the Planned Parenthood offices.

Anti-abortion crusader and local realtor Susan Balfour has purchased the house next door and announced she will be moving the Open Arms Pregnancy Center there from its current location in her real estate office.  Another developer, Rocco Musumeci,  recently purchased the building across the street and announced his plans to open an anti-abortion “adoption agency” there. That building has been decorated with life-sized statues of Jesus and Mary that overlook protestors. 

“We’re just going to surround Planned Parenthood with good stuff,” Balfour told the Chronicle, “they might as well go get new jobs right now.”  “40 Days of Prayer” protests have closed 38 Planned Parenthood clinics around the country, she told the paper during an interview in which she said she opposes contraception and believes a woman who is raped should be required to give birth.

About 165 volunteers have joined the Get Your Girl On counter-protesters and the group has started a fund-raising “Pledge a Picket” campaign. Members are also training to become “Clinic Escorts” who protect patients and staff from threats and intimidation when they enter and leave the building.

The clinic has been serving  the Glens Falls region,  including women in parts of Warren, Washington, Essex, and Hamilton counties for the past 45 years, mostly by providing annual physicals, contraceptives and cancer screenings. One in five women have relied on Planned Parenthood’s affordable healthcare at some point in their lives a staff member said.

The “40 Days of Prayer” campaign is set to end on November 3.

Photo by R.K. Cowles Photography.


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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.

66 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Isn’t it when free speech begins to harm people that it is no longer considered constitutional? It seems like if it is to the point where the women trying to get services from PP are being harassed in a way that makes an already traumatic situation more emotionally traumatic then it is no longer protected free speech and potentially illegal? I personally am opposed to abortion but that isn’t anyone’s business but my own. Just like how what someone else chooses is none of my business. Go pray for yourselves and leave these poor women alone.

  2. Charlie S says:

    I love children and the thought of aborting what could be a beautiful child with lots of potential to do good in this world saddens me,but then i’m saddened when I see dead animals on the road,which I see every day.Many things in this cruel world sadden me and if I could snap my fingers and have things my way i’d be less saddened.I’m not against abortion only because I don’t think anybody has a right to tell another person what to do with his or her body.I think it’s unfortunate that it has to come to abortion.You would think women would be a little wiser and play it safe if they’re going to have sex and they don’t want children.You would think the education system would focus more on things like this and learn the girls when they’re young and teachable,instead of teaching them how to be robots in a consumer society which is basically what they’re doing.
    What gets me is that many of these people that will go lengths to block abortions will,at the same time,support war where little children are often the casualties. They’re all for wanting every pregnant woman to bring their child into this world,but then once the child is born that’s where all their efforts for those children stop.How many of these anti-abortion extremist are willing to adopt? How many donate their services or money towards programs that help poor children? There’s a ton of hypocrisy out there,and the very people who come off as being saintly are some of the biggest hypocrites around. Abortion is like politics…a very touchy subject.People should exert more of their energy towards making this world a better,healthier place for all instead of using their shallow religious beliefs to try to exploit or demonize others.

    • Paul K says:

      you are assuming that these “extremists” are pro war and do not adopt chidren, when in fact many do adopt and are pro family with STRONG CONVICTIONS about baby killing

  3. Debby says:

    Victims of war or chidren being slaughtered by the mothers “choice” are like comparing apples to oranges. The children are thriving in a healthy warm womb and are suctioned out first the leg leaving the abdomen then other legs and the rest of their body parts in to be torn apart into a vaccume then flushed. Are we pretending abortion is harmless medical procedure? Have you ever seen a woman having anxiety attacks for the rest of her life with no relief because she became sorry and realized how bad abortion is? Come off your might horse and get educated or keep being ignorant.

  4. laurie says:

    These protests frustrate the hell out of me. By all means, open your adoption center, and your pregnancy center, right next door. Give woman and girls options. That’s great! But don’t block or intimidate them from accessing low-cost annual physicals, cancer-screenings and mammograms (which combined make up the vast majority of the services Planned Parenthood provides) because you think they might get an abortion while they’re inside. Like Charlie suggests above, people like this always seem far more concerned about the health of an unborn fetus than they are about the girls and women who receive care from Planned Parenthood.

    Aside: Remind me never to buy a house through Susan Balfour.

  5. Roberta says:

    Let them go ahead and do their 40 days of prayer. If they want to put their energies in something so futile, be my guest. I would rather do something constructive: support Planned Parenthood; escort the women to & from its site; press for sex education in schools; fight for the right to do what you need to do with your own body. It’s nobody’s business but your & your doctor’s. And NEVER use Balfour Realty, buying or selling a home or business.

  6. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    One of the wonderful things about the Adirondack region is the sense of history, something I just wrote about. There is a sort of a nineteenth century vibe here – the rustic architecture, the legacy of the great camps, the old guides and their guide boats…

    On the other hand, these offensive, ignorant protests are an example of nineteenth century thinking we all could do without.

  7. Paul K says:

    Come on people, there is a whole lot of baby killing going on in that building, have some conviction.

  8. Pete Klein says:

    If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have an abortion.
    An abortion is not baby killing. It ain’t human until it is out of the woman and is breathing air on its own.
    And if abortion is murder and you happen to believe in God, then God is the number one baby killer because a miscarriage is caused by God or nature if you don’t believe in God.

  9. Tom Vawter says:

    Just another example in it’s millenia-old history of punishment doled out by Christians against innocents. Reprehensible!

  10. Bob Meyer says:

    It would help the cause of basic civilized behavior if
    Susan Balfour & Rocco Musumeci lost enough business to send a clear message of disgust from their community.
    I agree with Pete Nelson’s post above.
    Shame on these people.
    Go Planned parenthood!

  11. Paul K says:

    pssst, they are killing babies in that building, some just 3 months from delivery

    • Paul says:

      psst,Paul it’s legal. Go talk to your legislator. Once you have the law changed come back and we can continue the discussion.

      • Paul K says:

        they are killing babies and your ok with that, yes it is legal and shameful, thats why the protest’s take place, in hope that one day, killing babies will come to a stop

        • Paul says:

          I didn’t say I was ok with anything. I said it is legal. If you want it to stop why protest the place that is trying to help women get access to contraception or other information about family planning so they don’t have to do it????

    • Paul says:

      Also, these type of protests harm women that have already been born. You must have a problem with that also and want to see it come to an end?

  12. Kate Austin-Avon Kate says:

    FYI, to donate to the Glens Falls Planned Parenthood, you can go to this address:

    • Paul K says:

      why donate, they get tax payer money

      • Paul says:

        Because lots of people need their help. Why are you opposed to charitable organizations that are trying to help people? Should the next protest be out in front of a Catholic charities mission?

        • Paul K says:

          again, they are killing babies at planned parenthood…choose life

          • Rene Taylor says:

            Men ruling womens reproductive choices: Since the dawn of time. Women ruling mens reproductive choices: Never in the course of history. Stay out of my constitutional rights you disgusting MAN.

  13. Joseph says:

    Paul K = TROLL

  14. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: You are assuming that these “extremists” are pro war and do not adopt chidren, when in fact many do adopt and are pro family with STRONG CONVICTIONS about baby killing –

    Maybe I should have been more concise hey Paul.Maybe I should have said so and so Mr. or Mrs. Christian have used so much of their energy to keep women from having abortions,yet they’ll turn around and support war.Take the Iraq War for instance.I’ll never forget all of the gung-hoer’s for that war….and look at what it cost us and is still costing us. Pat Robertson was one of those gung-hoer’s and i’m certain the millions in his flock went along with him.That’s what sheep do,they go along with the rest of the flock.I remember clearly kooky Robertson demonizing those muslims in their foreign land and openly letting the world know that he’s all for dropping bombs on them,never mind that most of them were to be woman and children that were killed by bombs made in the USA.

    Debbie says: Come off your might horse and get educated or keep being ignorant.

    I’m not on a high horse Debbie and i’m far from ignorant I assure you.If we ended abortions there’d be a ton of woman suffering and dying needlessly I assure you.Outlawing abortions is not the answer there has to be another way! I wish there were no abortions,but who do these people think they are trying to tell woman what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies?

  15. Charlie S says:

    Paul K says: pssst, they are killing babies in that building, some just 3 months from delivery

    Pssst, Paul…did you support the Iraq War? Do you realize it was mostly woman and children killed by our bombs.High estimates are of a million Iraquis killed by our bombs,three-quarters of them woman and children.You don’t have to openly answer the question.My point in bringing this about is that the same people that are anti-abortion are also pro war.Hypocrisy I tell you. Ignorance too!

    • Paul K says:

      you are mistaking our bombs for the insurgent”s bombs,killing their own people and our soldiers.Stop assuming that all anti baby killing people are pro war.

  16. Enid Mastrianni anonymous says:

    The majority of people who live in New York State are pro-choice. 99% of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. People like Balfour and her ilk are a tiny minority and they know they cannot get laws changed in NY. Instead they have chosen to aggressively camp-out at Planned Parenthood in a spectacle designed to induce sexual and religious shame in order to humiliate women in our community who seek affordable reproductive health care.

    These virgin worshipping zealots cloak themselves in religion to obscure their belief that any poor woman who has sex—young, old, married or unmarried—should be punished by forced birth.

    They are praying for unwanted pregnancies, unwanted births and unwanted children. If they sincerely wanted to prevent abortion, they would support accessible, affordable birth control; they don’t.

  17. Peter says:

    The solution, of course, to all of this is to work diligently through education and reform to make birth control available to all in an affordable manner. Nobody likes abortion, and the irony in this little Almanac quibble is that Planned Parenthood provides inexpensive birth control and family planning. There are, of course, lunatics involved in the discussion. I define those not as pro choice or pro life, but those who are against birth control. Balfour seems to fit that category, and history will simply show her to be one of those un-sharpened pencils.

    • Paul K says:

      Balfour’s comments anger me also, what i like about Balfour and Musumeci is that they are offering “another way” other than the referrals that Planned Parenthood give to kill the baby in the womb.

  18. Harold says:

    While this is certainly a serious debate why is it taking place in a forum that promotes the exploration, enjoyment and serenity of the Adirondacks? If I wanted to become agitated and saddened by this intractable issue I would seek it out in a more appropriate editiorial medium.

    • John Warren John Warren says:


      Large numbers of women living inside the Blue Line count on this facility and its satellite offices for affordable healthcare – it’s an important Adirondack story.

      Thanks for reading,

      John Warren

      • Harold says:

        Ok, point well taken John. Then, for my two cents, I believe women should be allowed unfettered access to whatever health care services they need or desire. If people disagree with abortion then they should follow an age-old prescription set out by our constitution and go harass, threaten, humiliate their duly elected state and federal representatives and members of the Supreme Court. To picket outside of Planned Parenthood offices these individuals are simply bullying already vulnerable and deeply distressed young women who are in the midst of the worst crisis in their lives. Now, I need to go for a hike to get rid of the angst this editorial has caused me!

  19. Brian says:

    I wish Ms. Balfour’s comments to the Chronicle were available online somewhere. I don’t remember them exactly but they were something along the lines of: everything that happens is God’s will. Even if a woman is raped, the child is still a gift from God. She should just submit to God’s will and be happy about it.

    Abortion must be legal simply because the alternative is unacceptable. I don’t think women’s well-being should be passively left into the hand’s of God… especially when “God” means some paternalistic man’s interpretation thereof. Men can stop micromanaging women’s lives. Women contribute more to society than serving as baby factories. They must have control over their bodies.

    And frankly, with counseling and contraception, the other services provided by Planned Parenthood – the overwhelming majority of what it does – diminishes the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus abortions.

    • Enid Mastrianni anonymous says:

      Some excerpts from the Chronicle article:

      “We’re just going to surround Planned Parenthood with good stuff,” Ms. Balfour told The Chronicle, “They might as well go get new jobs right now.”

      Ms. Balfour claims that 38 Planned Parenthood offices around the country have closed “because of the 40 Days of Prayer.”

      “People forget that they are killing babies in there,” she said. “It’s wrong. God hates the shed of innocent blood.” Those babies haven’t done anything wrong.”“Our goal is to give women that find themselves pregnant and needing to make a decision to make a decision for life…We want to help them make good choices, and never, ever, ever suggest abortion.”

      What if a woman is raped, we asked.

      “It’s never acceptable, Ms. Balfour said about abortion. “The chances of a girl getting pregnant by rape are so extremely rare, and that baby didn’t do anything wrong. There is no baby unless God puts that baby there.”

      What if the mother’s life is at risk”

      “We’ll let God make that decision.” she said. “I do that with everything. It’s great.”

      Mr. Musumeci, like Ms. Balfour, said he made a conscious decision to seek a Christian adoption agency for his new building, going up on what was an empty lot at the corner of Warren and Oak Streets.

      “Oh yes,” he said. “Without a doubt.” You want to give a woman the choice, and why not do it from across the street? We are pro-life and pro-choice, not pro-death. They are pro-death.

      “A baby’s heart beats at the eighth day of pregnancy. You are stopping the heart from beating.”

      Mr. Musumeci said if a woman is impregnated by rape, “she can raise the child and the child can give her love back to help her heal those wounds.”

      In the case where the mother’s life may be at risk, he said, “Try and save both of them. Let God choose. Man should have no say in it.”

      Mr. Musumeci said he doesn’t want Planned Parenthood to close.

      “They should stay there and do the good, but get rid of abortion and birth control and keep all the rest,” he said. “Birth control is another form of abortion.”

  20. Adam says:

    It seems that Ms. Balfour’s are very similar to that of the Westboro Baptist Church. It also seems that her opinion and tactics are about as popular as the Westboro Baptist Church as well.

    • Paul K says:

      they actually think and rightfully so,that they are tring to save a life, they’re convictions are such that someone must stand up for the unborn…so let it be me(them)

      • Adam says:

        The same people instructing these women on how to conduct their lives, and demanding that everyone follow their belief system are the same people who carry flags that state “Don’t Tread On Me” ……oh the irony.

      • Brian says:

        Well, I actually think, and rightfully so, that someone should stand up for the born… so let it be me. I get frustrated by people, primarily conservatives, who spend all their time obsessing about fetuses before they are born but stop caring about their quality of life the instant they are born.

        Though given the pre-natal care that PP provides, maybe those anti-PP folks don’t care about quality of life before birth either. I don’t know.

  21. Brian says:

    These people who claim to care so much about “children” before they are born, I wish they cared 1/10 as much about them after they are born. Instead, most of them are leading the charge to slash virtually every public service that helps children. It’s help them before they born, Darwinism after.

    • Paul K says:

      you have no idea what you are talking about, you just speculate about “these people”… do you really know what happens to the baby during an abortion, it is sickning.

      • Adam says:

        The point is, where is your compassion after the birth? Most pro-lifers are also anti health care reform, which would in fact provide citizens access to health care.

  22. erin says:

    Separations between church and state…. isn’t that in the constitution? Oh yeah… it is. When all the anti abortion protestors are able to adopt the unwanted children that we have in this country now I may listen. It is sad that there is a need for abortion in this day in age, but it is a necessity. If our society recognized the need for a contraceptive for men we may have fewer numbers of unwanted pregnancy. I heard a comedian say that if men could get pregnant there would be abortions at ever Starbucks. I feel that is very true. We as women have been forced to take on the responsibility of population control. Until men take on the burden allow us to do our social duty!

  23. John K. says:

    Good to know. I will never doing any business with Balfour or Masumeci, and I will discourage anyone else from doing business with them.

  24. Emmy Benson says:

    I think Susan Balfour should keep her mind on real estate especially now that she is involved with such a controversial issue. This could and more than likely will hurt her business. I don’t believe abortion should be used as birth control but I also believe there are circumstances that warrant an abortion. It is nobody business what girls do with their bodies and if Susan Balfour believes that then I feel she needs to gain some weight, get a few tattoos and maybe a few piercings here and there and if she doesn’t then we all need to protest outside Balfour Realty. How does that sound Susan? Get a life and keep your nose out other peoples business.

  25. Amy L says:

    I received basic healthcare at this clinic when I was young and newly married. I had no insurance, and they provided annual check ups and basic care which had ZERO to do with abortion. In fact, they made it clear that they do NOT “push” abortions. They bend over backwards to educate young women so that situation can be avoided. PP is so much more than an abortion clinic. Take it away, you take away important care for poor families.
    Those protesters are ignorant bigots and their behavior is reprehensible.

  26. Paul K says:

    With all the thumb downs recieved, Please,please, CHOOSE LIFE

  27. Linda S. says:

    1. Planned Parenthood is a licensed medical center staffed by dedicated professionals providing high quality care that’s unbiased, nonjudgmental and compassionate.

    2. Planned Parenthood counseling is non-directive. It provides honest information about all pregnancy options: parenting, adoption placement, and abortion. It’s done by trained professionals who ensure the woman is not being coerced into any decision. Referrals are made to organizations that can provide additional services (WIC, social services, etc.)

    3. This isn’t about abortion. It’s about respect. Planned Parenthood respects the personal and often complex decisions that individuals make. Parenting, adoption placement, and abortion are decisions that women and families make. We don’t believe that you can make these decisions for someone else.

  28. Paul K says:

    Is there anyone in this on line debate, that will stand up for an un born child, ANYONE, ANYONE OUT THERE…. VERY,VERY SAD

    • Peter says:

      Absolutely Paul. I stood up for two unborn children and raised them lovingly to adulthood. And while I don’t believe in abortion, I believe that my daughter has the right to make the choice to terminate a pregnancy if she chooses. And she shouldn’t have to be rich or have the ability to fly to Europe to do so.

      I would argue that everyone on this discussion marvels at pregnancy, at the wonderment of birth, and at the miracle of life itself. Believing in choice doesn’t negate that in any way. Nor does it mean not standing up for the unborn child. Like almost all moral decisions, there is a continuum, something that archaic interpretations of belief systems rarely include. So is it possible to be pro-life and pro-choice? Absolutely.

      Framing the entire discussion in the manner that Balfour seems to be demanding undermines our ability as a nation to make ethical and positive advancements in this area. We can do so, and have made radical advancements in this area through education and advances in birth control. Our society is moving forward towards reducing abortions despite heightened levels of sexual activity and an rapidly expanding population.

      So Paul K, I hear your pain, and encourage you to understand that for us to advance as a society we have to move forward into the century we currently live in. Abortion is a medical procedure available to all of us. It will remain so. The good fight should be towards education and birth control: that is what will reduce abortions. Fighting abortion as a medical procedure is just a losing battle that interferes with the direction we should all be headed.

      Thanks for listening.

      • Paul K says:

        Peter, you are a confused thinker,talking from both sides of your mouth, you have no conviction,this abortion mentality for the past 30 some years, has bred an amazing thought process, that life is meaningless, that choosing an abortion because of an inconvience, and calling that freedom and empowerment or “advancing as a society”.Choosing life and letting the baby live and making abortion rare. it is worth the fight

  29. John K. says:

    Frankly, I’m surprised that this site allows a blatant troll like Paul K to keep posting versions of the same point over and over again. We got his perspective the first time he made it. We understand his perspective, but many of us believe that it is not our place to tell other people how they must live their lives and manage their own healthcare.

  30. Stacey says:

    PP is an affordable place for me to go. No one has the right to tell me what I can and can not do with my body.
    Every time I have to drive by the building (only on warm days, go figure) and I see people protesting outside it make my blood boil! Who are you to judge!

    I don’t foresee PP going anywhere anytime soon.

    Oh and Paul, until you become a FEMALE kindly stop commenting on every single post like you have any say in the matter!!

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