Abortion

The anti-choicers will not relent, Planned Parenthood still needs your support!

PlannedParenthoodAdvocate

Last Thursday's Senate vote to reject a measure which would have defunded Planned Parenthood was a huge victory. But unfortunately, the anti-choicers will not relent. They are planning to protest at our Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul this Friday (Good Friday).

Over the past couple of months, millions of people across the country stood up for Planned Parenthood by contacting their legislators, participating in rallies and phonebanks, talking to friends and family, making donations, blogging, and speaking out on facebook and twitter. Those voices made all the difference and believe me, as a Planned Parenthood staffer, I can’t even begin to express how grateful we are for your support. It has been an overwhelming experience. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Last Thursday’s Senate vote to reject a measure which would have defunded Planned Parenthood was a huge victory. But unfortunately, the anti-choicers will not relent. They are planning to protest at our Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul this Friday (Good Friday). We expect that there will be over 1,000 anti-choicers at our clinic, and with last Thursday’s Senate vote, we have reason to believe there may be even more than that.

It will be a challenging day for Planned Parenthood’s patients and staff, but with your help, we can make the anti-choice protest backfire. How? By pledging a protester! The more anti-choice protesters that show up at the clinic, the more money raised for Planned Parenthood to continue providing the important care and services it offers.

(Please share this video with friends on facebook and twitter!)

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1 Pledged protester = $10

2 pledged protesters=$20

25 pledged protesters=$250

Help us ensure that every anti-choice protester that shows up on 4/22 is pledged by a Planned Parenthood supporter. I’m sure the anti-choicers will appreciate knowing how much money their protest raised for our clinic!

Click here to Pledge a Protester.
Money raised for Planned Parenthood

Also, if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, we’d love it if you could stand with us in person on Friday. We’re holding a peaceful solidarity event to show the anti-choicers that Minnesotans stand w/ Planned Parenthood. Register here.

Thank you all again for your ongoing support of Planned Parenthood and of pro-choice causes in general. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your support.

Thank you!

P.S. If you’re interested in following along w/ what’s happening at our clinic on Friday, follow us on facebook or twitter. We’ll be updating throughout the day!

Analysis Violence

Six Months of Fury: Attacks on Planned Parenthood See Sharp Increase After Misinformation Campaign

Kanya D’Almeida

Since the CMP videos came out this summer, numerous Planned Parenthood clinics have been vandalized or subjected to arson, starting with an attack on a health center in the Chicago suburb of Aurora on the morning of July 19.

Read more of our articles on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting here.

When 500 anti-choice demonstrators gathered outside the small Planned Parenthood health center in Pullman, Washington, on August 22, locals were taken by surprise at the size of the gathering. Until that day, the Pullman clinic, which enjoys widespread community support, had only ever seen the occasional stray protester or two, and even larger Planned Parenthood facilities in the Greater Washington and North Idaho area had never before witnessed a crowd larger than 100 people.

Demonstrators, who waved signs saying “Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts,” were responding to a call put out weeks earlier by a coalition of anti-choice organizations urging citizens to take to the streets in a national day of protest against the health-care provider.

The impetus for that call came in July, when the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice front group, began releasing a series of deceptively edited videos purporting to expose Planned Parenthood officials engaging in illicit trafficking of fetal tissue and organs. These videos, and the unethical ways in which the footage was obtained, were quickly discredited, while a federal investigation turned up absolutely zero evidence that the organization broke any laws on fetal tissue donation.

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These facts, however, were not enough to deter anti-choice crusaders from capitalizing on the misinformation to drum up opposition towards the health-care provider. A few miles away from the Pullman clinic, in the city of Moscow, the radical evangelical Christ Church evoked some of CMP’s falsehoods in order to garner support for the August 22 rally.

Less than two weeks later, on September 4, the Pullman clinic was firebombed. The attack happened in the early hours of the morning when arsonists threw a rock through a front window and then lobbed an explosive into the interior of the health center.

“It lit the entire inside of the building on fire very quickly,” Tanya Riordan, vice president of community outreach for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, told Rewire in a phone interview. “Every single thing inside the center was destroyed or damaged and 100 percent of the inside of the building has had to be replaced and rebuilt.”

Situated in a college community, close to Washington State University, the Pullman clinic is a small operation. It serves about 2,000 patients annually, including many college students who rely on the provider for STI testing, breast and cervical cancer screening, birth control, and pregnancy tests. Financial damage from the arson attack exceeded $500,000, with Planned Parenthood paying $250,000 out of its own pocket.

But the financial burden is only a single piece of a very grim picture. The arson on September 4 was one of many recent violent attacks that culminated last week in the carnage at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, where Robert Lewis Dear Jr.—who, in interviews with investigators, repeated the same anti-choice rhetoric heard in the CMP videos—allegedly gunned down three people and injured nine others in the deadliest anti-choice attack since the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009.

Since the CMP videos came out this summer, numerous Planned Parenthood clinics have been vandalized or subjected to arson, starting with an attack on a health center in the Chicago suburb of Aurora on the morning of July 19.

According to Carole Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, the arsonist poured five gallons of gasoline around the front door and lit it on fire, causing an explosion.

“We were very fortunate that the fire did not breach our front door,” Brite told Rewire. “We have security glass in place that really minimized the damage, and we were able to open the next day, Monday, at 8 a.m. like we always do.”

She noted that other threats and acts of vandalism have occurred at clinics throughout Illinois, including “impostors trying to gain access to health centers and administrative offices,” which staff members prevented.

In August, she said, there was an attempt to hack the Planned Parenthood website, a national platform that hosts every single one of the organization’s regional and local websites. While the cyber attack was aborted, it did cause disruption to patient care, Brite said, since many patients now utilize the online appointment scheduling system.

Also in August, firefighters in New Orleans discovered that a car had been set alight at the construction site of a future Planned Parenthood facility, the Guardian reported, adding that police had beefed up security in the area due to an anti-choice protest that took place on that very site a year earlier.

“All summer we saw extremists creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism,” Brite said. “The videos that came out in July were clearly a smear campaign … and people have latched on to it. We fully believe that this rhetoric has led to an increase in violence, and that violence itself is feeding more of the same.”

The Pullman attack happened next, and was followed some weeks later by an act of arson at the Thousand Oaks Planned Parenthood clinic in California, according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times. That facility provides some 7,000 patients annually with a range of services such as cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and birth control.

October also saw a string of attacks, most notably at the Claremont Health Center in New Hampshire, a state the National Journal has referred to as “ground zero” in the legal and political battle to defund Planned Parenthood.

In the first week of August, New Hampshire joined Alabama and Louisiana as the first states to slash funding for the health-care provider, despite the fact that 66 percent of New Hampshire voters opposed the defunding. In 2014, the state led the nation in terms of public support for safe, legal abortions with a 78 percent support rate (compared to the national average of 57 percent) according to the American Values Atlas.

Christopher Sununu, a Republican, cast the deciding vote on August 5 in the executive council to prevent Planned Parenthood of Northern New England from receiving a $639,000 state contract, just weeks before announcing his 2016 gubernatorial bid.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s New Hampshire Vice President for Public Policy Jennifer Frizzell told Rewire that the blocking of the contract was a shift from past Republican support in a state which, in the spring of 2015, defeated a legislative bill to defund Planned Parenthood with a strong bipartisan caucus.

A few months after the executive council’s decision, in early October, a vandal spray-painted the word “murderer” on the outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, a city of about 13,000 people in Western New Hampshire, the Associated Press reported.

It prompted the Claremont Police Department to keep a close watch on the clinic, conducting additional drive-bys during patrol hours. Thanks in large part to their heightened vigilance, law enforcement officials were able to catch a vandal in the act of severely damaging the inside of the facility on October 21, Frizzell said.

She said the culprit, a juvenile male, spent several hours in the health center with a hatchet, “systematically going from room to room causing extensive damage.” Before the cops apprehended him, the youth smashed the water and sewer lines, cut computer and data lines, smashed medical equipment, and spray-painted the walls inside the facility, forcing it to shut down. It eventually reopened on November 30.

The tab for repairs has already run into the “high tens of thousands,” Frizzell told Rewire in a phone interview, a price tag that does not even include lost revenue from the six weeks during which the clinic was inoperable, and additional security measures that may need to be implemented to protect it against future attacks. All told, the total cost will “likely exceed six figures,” she added.

These heavy financial costs come at a time when Republican lawmakers are doing their utmost to break the spine of Planned Parenthood, which serves an estimated 2.7 million men and women annually. In this timeline, Rewire traces the progression of anti-choice rhetoric from the CMP video smear campaign, through the Colorado shooting, up to last week’s Senate decision to defund Planned Parenthood, which would essentially strip the provider of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance that goes toward such preventive services as HIV testing and cancer screenings.

Reproductive health-care providers across the country are united in their belief that CMP’s smear campaign, and the subsequent legislative and political attacks on Planned Parenthood—from the federal level down to the local levelare responsible for the surge in violence.

“It’s hard not to infer that rhetoric doesn’t have consequences, including potentially having connection to the motivation for these attacks,” Frizzell said. In fact, following the November 27 shooting in Colorado, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urged her fellow politicians to stop the “poisonous rhetoric” that was creating a climate of terror for “doctors, nurses and patients.” Activists and advocates allege that, all across the country, elected officials have fanned the flames of the violent anti-choice movement, creating a hostile environment for those seeking to access or provide reproductive health care.

While fears of more anti-choice terrorism are running high, particularly in the aftermath of the tragedy in Colorado last weekend, patients and providers say the incidents have only strengthened their determination to keep clinics open, and continue to access necessary care. All of the Planned Parenthood staff that spoke with Rewire said that patient numbers, even immediately following the attacks, remained steady—though some, as in the case of the Claremont health center, had to be referred to other locations.

“Despite the unwelcome consequences of funding loss and the extensive damage, these attacks have led to an outpouring of community support,” Frizzell said. “The cumulative effect of all these events has motivated many of our supporters to engage at a higher level—be they activists, donors, or our patients, who’ve all been raising their voices and telling their stories.”

In Pullman, Riordan said, community members came out in droves in an overwhelming show of support for the clinic, organizing fundraisers and tacking notes of support to the fences outside the ravaged facility. This past weekend, scores of people took to the streets in a national day of solidarity with Planned Parenthood.

“We realize the intent [of the attacks] is to silence us, drive us away from this work, and limit resources but this only deepens our resolve to continue the work to destigmatize women’s health,” Riordan stated. “If we do this, it won’t be possible for politicians to continue making fanatical and false representations about women’s health.”

News Abortion

Deceptive Planned Parenthood Attack Videos Spur More Anti-Choice Protests

Teddy Wilson

Thousands of anti-choice protesters gathered August 22 at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country during a “National Day of Protest,” in response to a series of videos spreading misinformation about the organization.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Thousands of anti-choice protesters gathered August 22 at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country during a “National Day of Protest,” in response to a series of videos spreading misinformation about the organization.

The videos, which have been released in coordination with anti-choice Republican lawmakers, have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from GOP legislators and anti-choice activists.

The videos were produced and published by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice front group behind a series of videos seeking to defame Planned Parenthood. Questions have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

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The August 22 protests were organized and coordinated by a host of prominent anti-choice outfits, such as Create Equal, Pro-Life Action League, 40 Days for Life, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, and were co-sponsored by groups that included the Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council, and Operation Rescue. The more than 300 organized protests took place in 47 states around the country.

Many of the protests took place at Planned Parenthood clinics that are regularly closed on Saturdays, but at those that were open, volunteer escorts were there to walk visitors to the clinics through the anti-choice gatherings.

Planned Parenthood officials view the protests as an attempt to prevent patients from accessing reproductive health care.

“These rallies are meant to intimidate and harass our patients, who rely on our non-profit health centers for basic, preventive health care,” Eric Ferrero, vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement. “The people behind these protests have a clear political agenda: they want to ban abortion, and block women and men from accessing basic reproductive health care.”

The organizers viewed the protests as a way to galvanize possible supporters and create grassroots activism in communities.  

“We don’t believe this will be solved in Washington D.C., or the state legislatures,” Mark Harrington, the national director of Created Equal, told USA Today. “This will be solved in local communities when they take ownership over their own communities. That’s why we are trying to empower local organizers and pro-life organizations.”

Created Equal is known for displaying graphic images during anti-choice protests, and both Harrington and Eric Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League, agreed that graphic images would be appropriate during Saturday’s protest.

“What’s really turning people’s stomachs about these videos is how real they’re making abortion,” Scheidler said, reported the Washington Examiner. “The thought of where you crush the baby … so we think showing the victims Planned Parenthood is exploiting is totally appropriate under the circumstances of this protest.”

Since the release of CMP’s heavily edited, misleading videos, anti-choicers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis. The protests on Saturday included much more of that same rhetoric.

At a protest in New York state, anti-choice protester Eric Quinones said that legal abortion would lead to the same consequences as marriage equality. “This death pit right here is the fuel for so many other horrible atrocities in our country as same-sex marriage, the slippery slope, this fuels it,” Quinones said, reported the Watertown Daily Times.

Quinones, who attended a protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Canton, New York, also appeared to call for spiritual warfare. “We need to have our spiritual armor on, so we’ll be able to pull down these strongholds and be able to lay waste to the enemy, and see an America that has no more Planned Parenthood anymore,” Quinones said. “Wouldn’t that be a glorious thing?”

Judi Scherban, who attended the Planned Parenthood protest in Boston, invoked Hitler and Nazi Germany. “I don’t understand how people are not as upset about what’s happening here, as historically they’re upset at what Hitler did,” Scherban told Boston public radio station WBUR.

At a protest in front of a construction site of a Planned Parenthood facility in New Orleans, the Rev. Rod Aguillard said that the United States is “headed for destruction” because women have access to abortion care, reported the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“This is a Germany moment,” Aguillard said. “We are in a Hitler moment right now.”

With the heated rhetoric comes worries of possible violent actions against Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics.

A man accused of removing signs at an abortion clinic in Metairie, Louisiana, was arrested last month and charged with committing a hate crime. A few days before that incident, an unidentified person poured and ignited gasoline on the recently laid foundation and a security guard’s car at the same New Orleans construction site where protesters gathered Saturday.

Part of advocates’ concerns stem from the attack videos’ publishers’ connections: Troy Newman, one of the founders of CMP, is the president of Operation Rescue, a radical anti-choice organization with connections to violent extremists within the anti-choice movement.

Organizers of the protest dismissed concerns of violence. Monica Migliorino Miller, of the Pro-Life Society, said she is “opposed to any kind of violence,” but that “the real violence is happening inside their abortion facilities, and [the videos released this summer] have shown they can’t run from that,” Miller told Michigan Radio.

A report released in February found that threats of harassment, intimidation, and violence against abortion providers have doubled since 2010. Reproductive rights advocates have raised concerns that legislative attacks by anti-choice lawmakers have emboldened radical anti-choice activists.

CMP has repeatedly charged that Planned Parenthood has engaged in illegally selling fetal tissue of aborted fetuses.

However, the unedited video footage, which CMP does not release until hours or days after the video “highlights” are published, has consistently shown Planned Parenthood officials saying that they do not sell or make a profit from fetal tissue.

Federal law explicitly allows for the donation of fetal tissue for research or transplant. The law allows entities involved to make and receive “reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.”

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations into the organization and hearings, but to date none have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) directed the Department of Health to investigate Planned Parenthood in July. The investigation concluded that the clinic were in compliance with the state’s fetal tissue regulations. 

Despite the state clearing Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, anti-choice protesters in Indiana gathered Saturday outside the organization’s clinics.

Silas McClufor, the organizer of the protest outside of the Fort Wayne Planned Parenthood, estimated that about 500 people participated in the protest.

“Planned Parenthood is lying to women and not giving information that they are using the body parts of the aborted babies. They are not telling mothers they are selling these for a profit and we cannot stand for this. Planned Parenthood does not honor women and it doesn’t have respect for human life in the womb,” McClufor told WANE.

All 50 states have adopted the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which also governs tissue and organ donation for therapeutic and research purposes from all dead humans, including aborted fetuses. Many states specifically require pregnant patients consent to the transplant or donation prior to the abortion as opposed to after.

Both Planned Parenthood and StemExpress have stated that all fetal tissue is donated with consent of patients.

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