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Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2014 @ 8:13 PM
KETTERING — An estimated 200 people took part in an anti-abortion rally on Thursday as part of an around-the-clock demonstration that included protesters in Kettering and downtown Dayton.
The national organization, A Heart For the Next Generation, will be centered in front of the Women's Med clinic on Stroop Road in Kettering until Saturday. The 72-hour prayer session began Wednesday at 10 p.m. It's the first large-scale protest in the area since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a buffer zone for picketers around abortion clinics.
A message left with the clinic, which is one of three remaining abortion clinics in the Dayton-Cincinnati region, was not returned on Thursday. The facility is owned by Martin Haskell, who's been fighting a state order to close a clinic of his in Sharonville.
"This is the place of violence," said Scott Heldreth of A Heart For the Next Generation as he pointed to the facility on Stroop. "Even though the whole city is aware of it, this is the place where they do violence against women and they do violence against children."
Police officers closed a portion of Vineyard Avenue to accommodate the group's presence. According to Kettering Officer Ron Roberts, the department will have 14 officers on site for crowd control each morning. Two officers monitor the intersections to address any traffic concerns.
In total, the department estimates spending roughly $3,000 in overtime for the event.
Those who live in the area — they declined to be identified in this newspaper — said protests around the clinic on Stroop is just something they are used to.
"It's just not a big deal," one woman said.
A Heart For the Next Generation also demonstrated in front of the federal courthouse in Dayton on Thursday. Then roughly 10 group members were stationed in front of the Planned Parenthood center on Wilkinson Street.
The Southwest Ohio division of Planned Parenthood consists of seven health centers and one surgical center. On any given day, workers say there could be protesting at one of their centers.
"I think one of the most ironic things about this group of people is that, if you ask the protesters, they would also be anti-comprehensive sexual education," said Crystal Justice of Planned Parenthood. "And if this group really wanted to impact the abortion rate, they would support (that) more than anything."