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Anti-Abortion Protests Set to Begin

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Anti-abortion protests begin Saturday in front of a new Uptown healthcare facility that’s currently under construction.

It’s generating both buzz and concern from the community.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to police about plans to keep the peace.

“It is with great joy that the saints of god throughout America are coming to the city of New Orleans. We’ve got some unfinished kingdom business,” Rev. Rusty Thomas said.

They’re visiting from coast to coast. The men, women, and children of “Operation Save American” are here on a mission; standing in opposition of Planned Parenthood.

A new healthcare center is under construction on South Claiborne Avenue will offer a wide range of services; including cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment.

Operation Save American is staging a week of protests at the site, in hopes of blocking the opening;  mainly because abortion services will also be offered.

“They don’t even need to open this place; the only reason that they’re opening this place is because they’ve been told if they do not provide abortions they would be cut off from taxpayer dollars which is pretty unique,” Pastor Dale Sochia said.

Leaders with Planned Parenthood released statements.

President and CEO Melaney Linton said, “Too many women, men, and families in New Orleans are going without health care; and it’s taking a toll on the community.”

State Director Melissa Flournoy said, “We’re moving forward full-steam to build this health center so that more people can get care.”

History has shown that emotions can run high on the subject of abortion.

It’s why New Orleans police have developed a safety plan.

“All the things you’ve heard about violence and all, hey, look at this, kids, moms, and dads. This is Middle America here. There’s nothing here that’s going to cause any violence or nothing like it,” Pastor Bill Shaurks said.

“We’ve prepared to deal with anything that comes our way,” said New Orleans Police Commander Paul Noel.

He doesn’t anticipate a flare up, but he says the NOPD is prepared.

“The NOPD has a detailed and robust security plan in place to deal with this event and we’re confident that we have everything we need to deal with it properly.” Our goal is to make sure everybody has the ability to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we also want to make sure it’s done peacefully and lawfully,” Noel said.

The national organization has been planning the week-long protest for months.

It officially begins Saturday, July 19 and ends the following Saturday, July 26th.