Portlander Mary Numair made headlines after taking on a group of anti-choice protesters on October 25. Numair noticed a woman holding a sign that read “Abortion Kills Children” outside her place of employment (located a block away from the area’s local Planned Parenthood), prompting her to enter into dialogue with the demonstrators.
Hey I just single handedly broke up a planned parenthood protest by chanting the words "yeast infections" pic.twitter.com/SKvnIi30TB
— Mary Numair (@MaryNumair) October 25, 2015
Numair strongly believes that Planned Parenthood is a vital resource, explaining to BuzzFeed News,
“We have to look beyond the pro-life/pro-choice debate and recognize this organization is out there providing some of the most important care to our sensitive medical needs.”
After her attempts to engage in civil discussion with the anti-choice protesters proved futile, Numair decided to make her own sign and stage a one-woman counter-protest thanking Planned Parenthood for the treatment she received for chronic yeast infections when she was younger and uninsured.
Situating herself outside of Planned Parenthood and among the anti-choice protesters, Numair found herself chanting, “Yeast Infections!” with vigor. When the chanting became too much for the group, they circled the lone ranger and began to pray for her. Despite their efforts to silence Numair, she continued to chant with enthusiasm. It took just 30 minutes from the time Numair began her demonstration to drive the anti-choice group away.
Though she did get called a “whore” within minutes of beginning her demonstration, Numair received honks and other forms of encouragement from passerby’s. Support began flooding in on social media as word of her counter-protest traveled across the web. Her victory tweet (Above) has been retweeted over 5000 times.
Numair has never seen protestors at this Planned Parenthood location before, but she thinks the recent right-wing hype around fetal tissue donation and congressional hearings might have given anti-choice activists a new lease on life. “The group last night felt that they were on the winning side of a battle for the first time,” she said. “There was this arrogance and sense of victory—they knew that the defunding is very possible and they have Congress at a standstill.”
Though her yeast infection story is deeply personal, Numair thinks her strategy—chanting reproductive-health terms that embarrass anti-choice protestors—is replicable for other counter-protesters around the country. “I did look at the preacher-pastor guy and said, ‘See you next time!’ and I intend on sticking to that,” she said. She plans on making a bigger sign, too, and perhaps a few props. “If someone wants to help me make a giant wooden labia, that would be great.”
If one woman chanting something as simple as “Yeast Infections!” can overpower a group of anti-choice protesters, imagine the impact if all Planned Parenthood supporters took a page from Numair’s book. Chants like “Pap Smear!” and “Urinary Tract Infections!” could make all the difference. Now to figure out how to create a 6-foot tall speculum.