'Women Betrayed' rallies urge defunding of Planned Parenthood

Pro-life advocates from across the Salt Lake Valley rallied peacefully in front of Planned Parenthood on July 28, calling for state and federal officials to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood. The crowd joined pro-lifers across the nation in holding a "Women Betrayed" rally, an effort organized by Students for Life of America and its partner organization, Pro-Life Future. Rallies took place in about 65 cities across the nation.

"Defund Planned Parenthood—now," shouted the Salt Lake City crowd.

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Across the country in Iowa, about 100 people abandoned their lunch hour to publicly witness their opposition to Planned Parenthood. Their "Women Betrayed" rally was held at Mary's Choice, a pregnancy resource center, located next to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Sioux City.

"We came out today to demand that our representatives in Washington, D.C., and Salt Lake City hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their actions, and we are not alone in our fight," Callie Oppedisano told the Salt Lake City crowd. She co-chairs the Knights of Columbus pro-life committee with her husband, Joe, at St. John the Baptist Parish in Draper. A local Knights council helped organize the rally.

"Thousands have gathered with us today to give a voice to the voiceless, and to fight for women who deserve better than abortion," said Oppedisano. "More than 327,000 babies are killed a year, at a cost of $500 million to taxpayers. The shocking footage that was recently revealed shows (Planned Parenthood) is also selling body parts of precious children for their own profit ... a business transaction, not an act of compassion."

She was referring to a series of recently released videos showing Planned Parenthood discussing ways to do abortions that would salvage fetal tissues and body parts for researchers. Planned Parenthood disputes what the videos show, saying they were severely edited to distort what was said on tape.

Others speakers at the Salt Lake City rally said they also are committed to abolishing abortion. Jesse Craig, vice president of Right to Life said Planned Parenthood's "main goal is to strip the humanity from a person just because that person is not fully developed and cannot speak in defense of him- or herself."

"You cannot refer to an unborn baby as a blob of tissue or as less of a person, and then identify parts of that blob as human organs," Craig said. "You cannot have it both ways or deny the humanity of an unborn baby when its humanity is what makes it valuable. Thankfully, 10 states have already defunded Planned Parenthood, and Utah is not yet one of them."

Also attending the rally was Sam Akins; he and his wife have five children. They learned from their fourth child, who had a severe heart defect, that "love prevails" when life is given a chance, he told the Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Before the Akins' daughter was born, they were given three options: heart reconstructive surgery, palliative care or abortion. Despite fearing the uncertainty of her survival, the stress of caring for her and the financial burden of her high-risk surgeries, the Akinses chose to give birth to their daughter in 2012.

"I knew the moment Rita was born she was given to us to serve a purpose," Akins said.

Following three major surgeries, Rita died when she was 6 weeks old.

"Love prevailed in her death," Akins said. "We experienced the joy that comes from fully committing ourselves to the care of a child, the blessings of selfless giving from our family, our friends and even strangers; we experienced the miracle of a baby's undying love."

Planned Parenthood representatives stood among the Salt Lake City protesters with a banner that read: "Healthcare Happens Here. Stand with Planned Parenthood."

They declined to be interviewed for this article but handed out a folder of information about the organization's services.

In Sioux City, rally-goers chanted back and forth: "Planned Parenthood, Defund" and "Pro-choice, that's a lie, Babies never choose to die." They called on the government to stop funding the organization.

Sioux City Bishop R. Walker Nickless opened and closed the event with prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to witness to life.

"I hope that in my time as bishop, and our time here, this building next to us will be closed," he said.

According to Fred Shellabarger, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life for the Sioux City Diocese, the purpose of the rally was to call on state governments to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood.

"The recent revelations of their illegal sales of the body parts of aborted babies have opened the door for all to see the depravity of the Planned Parenthood business," he said. "This is the best opportunity we have had to finally end the more than $500 million dollars in annual taxpayer funding to the Abortion Goliath."

Carol Remer of Battle Creek, who has been a sidewalk counselor outside of Planned Parenthood, emceed the event.

"Scripture tells us the gates of hell won't prevail, but gates don't do battle," she said. "We have come to Planned Parenthood to do battle."

Iowa state Sen. Bill Anderson, a Republican from Pierson, shared his response to the videos.

"There are many words that came to mind when I saw the videos: saddened, sickened, but not surprised," he said. "We can no longer explain away Planned Parenthood's atrocities and their belief in life as a commodity."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bill Mazzella
2 years 6 months ago
The anti-abortion culture warriors are at it again. Crucify the poor and middle class who cannot afford to fly out of the country for abortions like the upper middle. Back to the butchers in back alleys and hundreds of thousands of women dying leaving their other children orphans who will join the poverty lines. Great for all those right to lifers who retire to their homes with no cost but their yelling and sloganeering while they make plans to visit their second or third vacation spot while these families scrounge for food and shelter. While we continue to make abortion a political football, we may as well search out all the Communists who must be behind all this. Give the asinine "candidates" something to talk about because they certainly seem lost for people who have the audacity to run for president with minimal ability.
Phil Tanny
2 years 4 months ago
The most effective way to prevent abortions is with contraception, a service which Planned Parenthood has excelled at providing to millions of women for decades. As I understand it, it's already true that taxpayer money already can't be used for abortions, so cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood will just mean less contraception services provided, leading to more abortions. Standing outside clinics protesting and conducting a finger pointing blame and shame campaign accomplishes little beyond making the protesters feel righteous, and ensuring voices such as the Catholic Church will never be welcomed inside the clinics, where the decisions are actually being made. A better solution would be for anti-abortion advocates such as the Church to partner with Planned Parenthood, get invited inside the clinic where the decision is being made, and offer to raise any child a family does not want. Then the Church would have something of value to offer, and a seat at the table. Women considering abortions are much more likely to listen to the Church if they see it as a friend, instead of a sanctimonious finger pointing blame and shaming enemy.

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