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Men hold antiabortion rally at Planned Parenthood and on Boston Common

Jim Havens (left), cofounder of The National Men's March to Abolish Abortion and Rally for Parenthood, was shadowed by Olivia Winter of Boston, dressed as a character from "The Handmaid's Tale," as they marched from Planned Parenthood in Brookline to Boston Common.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Scores of men who oppose abortion rights marched through part of Boston Saturday amid heckling from counterprotesters who repeatedly maneuvered themselves around police and into the midst of the demonstration.

The National Men’s March to Abolish Abortion and Rally for Personhood, which included several young boys, started early Saturday morning with a demonstration outside the Planned Parenthood center on Commonwealth Avenue and continued with a march to the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common for a rally that ended shortly before noon.

The protesters included at least two men wearing the logo of the white supremacist group Patriot Front.

“There is a man connected to every abortion. Men are a big part of the problem,” march organizers said on their website. “It’s time for men to become a big part of the solution and for all people of good will to stand up for the full federal protection of the preborn without exception.”

During the protest outside the clinic, one man addressed the crowd, saying: “Life begins at conception. It is not health care.”


A counterdemonstrator (left) shadowed participants in The National Men's March to Abolish Abortion and Rally for Parenthood in Boston.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Counterdemonstrators quickly began challenging the protesters outside the clinic.

One woman, Jill Sheridan of Bridgewater, said she happened to be in the city Saturday when she spotted the protest.

“I’m not sure [why] they think they have any right to tell a woman what she would do with her body,” she said to a reporter.

Ukumbwa Sauti of Arlington had heard of the antiabortion protest beforehand, and demonstrated against it while dressed as Jesus Christ. He held a sign shaped like a cross that read, “I [heart] reproductive freedom + trans rights.”

“We have to raise our voices to support women in their choice for reproductive health [as well as] for trans people, when they’re able to give birth,” Sauti said.

After about a half-hour outside the Planned Parenthood center, the antiabortion demonstrators began marching up Commonwealth Avenue toward downtown. Several dozen counterprotesters — many dressed as clowns and playing band music on instruments — marched alongside them.


Laura Dunn of Cambridge with Boston Clown March participated in a counterprotest against The National Men's March to Abolish Abortion and Rally for Parenthood.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

The two sides repeatedly mixed together, despite police efforts to keep them apart. The men continuously recited the Hail Mary, while the counterprotesters tried to drown them out with tunes like “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

Olivia Winter of Boston, dressed as in the red robes of a character from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” walked silently alongside the men.

During the march, one of the men approached police and pointed to Sheridan, who was walking among the antiabortion protest as a counterdemonstrator. Three Boston police officers used their bicycles to form a temporary barricade around Sheridan, who was stopped for about a minute before officers allowed her to continue with the counterprotest.

“You’re not going to tell me I can’t march,” Sheridan told the officers.

At Boston Common, Daniel Piselli, 21, from Central Massachusetts, carried a sign that read, “Personhood Now.” He had marched from the clinic to the rally, he said.

“I’ve been pro life for a long time, I was raised that way. And I just have a lot of compassion for the women who are going through this process of abortion or told that they have to have an abortion,” he said. “And I just want to offer my prayers for them.”

Two men wearing caps with the Patriot Front logo attended the rally.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

During the rally, two men wearing the logo of the white nationalist group Patriot Front on their caps attended the bandstand rally, which lasted for more than an hour.


Following the rally, the men gave literature with the group’s logo and website on it to a Globe reporter.

One of the men wearing a cap with the group’s logo voiced support for the antiabortion movement.

“We’re pro life,” the man said.

The men did not say if they were members of Patriot Front.

“If that is what you want to print,” the man said. “We don’t do interviews.”

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.