Abortion opponents rally at State Capitolby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Several thousand abortion opponents gathered at the State Capitol Thursday for their annual march and rally.
The event, sponsored by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, marked the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that made abortion a legal procedure.
The organization made its ongoing plea for the court to overturn that decision.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman addressed the crowd. And lobbyist Jordan Bauer outlined MCCL's agenda for the 2009 legislative session.
"With Minnesota facing a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, it is time to stop our tax dollars from paying for abortions," Bauer said.
On the other side of the debate, a representative of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota was at the Capitol saying the state must protect funding for family planning and women's health care.
The events at the Capitol were peaceful. But there was an incident earlier in the morning at a St. Paul clinic that provides abortion services.
A 32-year-old man is under arrest after driving his SUV into the front of the Planned Parenthood clinic on Ford Parkway in St. Paul in protest of the anniversary.
The clinic's front door was damaged, according to police spokesman Peter Panos. Panos says officers were called to the scene and found the driver waiting outside the vehicle, chanting or praying.
"That's our belief -- that it was an intentional act," he said. "Usually we have some demonstrations there on this day, but someone doing actual damage is very, very rare."
Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times.
It's the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Minnesota that performs abortions.