"Planned Parenthood. Planned Murder."
"The body inside your body is not your body."
"Am I not human? Were you not once here yourself?"
As Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumed offering abortions Monday at clinics in Milwaukee and Madison, protesters carried signs making sure their message was seen and heard. The Milwaukee protesters, many of whom were from Missionaries to the Preborn, also carried images of aborted fetuses.
"Hopefully, with these pictures, we can show them that it is a baby in there. And it is a human life that deserves protection," said Hannah Horien of Hartford, a protester at 435 S. Water St.
About 50 people, from young children to elders, stood along both sides of Water Street in front of the clinic.
"They're killing babies in there, and I feel very strongly that it is a life and they should be protected," Horien said. "That's why we're all out here."
A couple of protesters took turns amplifying their messages on a microphone. One man was trying to talk loud enough to reach the ears of those inside the clinic.
"If you decide to not murder your baby," he said, there are people who would help them out with shelter, food and "whatever you need."
Brian Zysk of Milwaukee was the sole abortion-rights protester outside the clinic. He shouted and used a whistle, attempting to not let the anti-abortion protesters' message get through.
"I believe that abortion is health care," Zysk said. "I believe that these people are bullying women. They cannot touch the mind of their creator to know what its will is. Therefore, they should live and let live."
He said the women coming to the clinic are "already in an emotional, vulnerable state."
"This is awful to have to hear. This is awful to have to see," Zysk said. "This does not provide dignity."
About 100 protesters gather in Madison
A crowd of about 100 anti-abortion protesters also gathered in front of the Madison East Planned Parenthood location, which was the second location to resume abortions.
Only one or two counter-protesters were present, including Kim Gasper-Rabuck.
"I support every person's — every woman and person who could become pregnant — right to an abortion to control their own bodies, to decide about their own destinies," said Gasper-Rabuck, who said she graduated from college in 1987 and had an abortion at age 26.
"Unfortunately, the Catholic Church and so-called Right to Life has decided that they should have the final say over how people conduct their lives and control their bodies," Gasper-Rabuck said.
An anti-abortion protester held his signs to block Gasper-Rabuck's signs in front of television crews.
There were no physical confrontations, however, at either location.
Judge opened door to Planned Parenthood decision
Abortions had been unavailable in Wisconsin for more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions in the U.S. for 50 years before it was struck down in 2022. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision held that it was the right of each individual state to determine its own laws to regulate the medical procedure.
In Wisconsin, it was generally interpreted that an 1849 law banning abortions except when the mother's life was in danger went back into effect.
Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit last year seeking to invalidate the ban, and last month Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper — in denying a motion to dismiss the suit — wrote that she didn't even think the 1849 ban existed. She said the law doesn't prohibit consensual medical abortions.
The judge's interpretation opened the door last week for Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin's largest abortion provider, to announce it would resume providing procedures. Adding to its confidence, the state Supreme Court has undergone a shift to a liberal majority. If Kaul's lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court, its chances of success are good.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin confirmed abortion appointments were made at both locations and patients did show up, but exact numbers were not released.
On both sides, people maintain beliefs, even if standing alone
In Madison, only a few people remained in the afternoon, including Scott Kaczorowski, a pastor at River Cities Christian Church in Wisconsin Rapids, and his wife.
"We have to go a bit further afield to do this type of thing," Kaczorowski said. "In Ohio, there were some times where I was out in front of an abortion clinic either just praying personally myself or with a group of people on occasion."
Vigil for Life, an organizer of the Monday protest in Madison, plans to be at the East location for 40 days between Sept. 27 and Nov. 5.
Back in Milwaukee, Zysk acknowledged he did not expect to be alone counter-protesting the abortion opponents. But he said he'll "defend always" the right of women to make their own choice.
"I'll fight alone," he said. "If I have to fight alone, I'll be here."
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Protesters return as Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumes abortions