Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2015 / 15:10 pm
Hundreds of women – along with scores of men – gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to protest what they see as betrayal of the nation's women at the hands of Planned Parenthood.
"I have a lot of young women friends, and I'm very concerned about how Planned Parenthood might exploit them, how Planned Parenthood might exploit me if I had an unplanned pregnancy," Christina Yao, a student at UMBC in Maryland, told CNA.
"There are women being betrayed and profited off of when they're in crisis situations, when we should be giving them help," added Lisa Twigg, social media coordinator for Life Matters Journal, an anti-violence and consistent ethic-of-life magazine.
"I think this is offensive, to me as a feminist," she told CNA.
Yao and Twigg were among hundreds of participants at the "Women Betrayed" rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, protesting Planned Parenthood's tactics and calling for an end to federal funding of the organization.
The Washington, D.C. rally was one of more than 60 demonstrations held across the country in protest of Planned Parenthood and its taxpayer funding. The demonstrations followed videos that have surfaced in recent weeks of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the procuring of body parts from aborted babies in exchange for money.
The rally also coincided with the release of a third undercover video from the citizen journalist group Center for Medical Progress. The video, released as part of a three-year investigative study of Planned Parenthood, interviews a former procurement technician that worked for a clinic which received organs from Planned Parenthood clinics.
In addition, the video shows one of the undercover investigators in the back room of an abortion clinic examining an aborted patient, speaking to Planned Parenthood doctors who discuss "how much we can get out of it."
Previous undercover videos showed senior Planned Parenthood officials discussing the pricing of "donated" body parts of aborted babies for "reasonable" compensation, as well as a graphic description of how fetal organs are extracted from aborted babies. In one of the videos, a Planned Parenthood doctor also suggested the possibility of altering an abortion procedure in order to have a better chance at extracting intact organs.
Planned Parenthood has defended its actions in the videos, saying that it is not making significant or illegal profits from the process, and that it receives appropriate consent from mothers.
Federal law generally prohibits the selling of human tissue but allows for the donation of tissue with "reasonable payments" for the "transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue." It explicitly prohibits the sale of tissue for "valuable consideration."
In the first two videos, Planned Parenthood officials were careful to articulate that the organization is not looking to make a significant profit from the transfer of body parts to procurement companies.
The Senate's Health and Human Services panel has started an investigation into Planned Parenthood over the allegations, as have two committees in the House of Representatives.
From 2013-2014, Planned Parenthood received over $528 million in grants from the federal government. The organization also reported a profit of $127 million for the same time period.
Michele Hendrickson, regional director for Students for Life of America, which organized the nationwide rallies, spoke about the need for protest.
"Planned Parenthood is targeting young women," she said, pointing to the undercover videos, and the practices described in them. "Women are definitely being betrayed."
"They're not there to help women- they're out there for money," Hendrickson continued, adding that some 94 percent of the pregnancy services provided at Planned Parenthood are related to abortion. "They push abortion to make money off of it."
Meg McDonnell, communications director for Women Speak For Themselves, a grassroots organization of women across the country, spoke at the rally, calling for the defunding of the abortion giant and criticizing what she called Planned Parenthood's exploitation of women.
"For decades, women have gone to Planned Parenthood seeking help while in a vulnerable and desperate place," McDonnell said. "And for decades, we have been told that Planned Parenthood is for women and women's health. Planned Parenthood's response to these women's desperation, the killing of the child in her womb, has only caused more suffering and pain."
The undercover videos show "that Planned Parenthood exploited these women even more" – potentially at the risk of the health of the mother, she continued, noting the willingness of the officials in the videos to alter abortion procedures in order to aid in organ harvest, "even if the altering of the procedure is more dangerous to the woman."
"This is not freedom. This is women betrayed yet again."
Alison Howard, director of alliance relations for pro-life legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, questioned Planned Parenthood's business practices. "The idea of negotiating prices is really scary for Americans to see," Howard said, adding that undercover videos "showed the business model behind Planned Parenthood and how they profit off of people's pain."
"Planned Parenthood is profiting off of our taxpayer money," she continued, criticizing the heavy federal funding of the organization and their multi-million dollar profits. "I think this idea of defunding is so they can function like other non-profits do."
Twigg argued that "Planned Parenthood isn't doing a very good job of protecting women.
The organization lacks adequate resources for pregnancy and adoption at their clinics, and tells "women that the solution to their problems, be they economical, or getting out of a bad relationship is to kill their child," she said.
She also criticized Planned Parenthood's resistance to regulations that would bring the clinics in line with surgical standards. "They're performing surgical procedures, why shouldn't they have to meet that standard?"
"I support the rights of women, but I don't think that means we should be required to secure our liberation from the blood of our children," Twigg said.
She explained that being a pro-life feminist is nothing more than "the radical notion that both women and children are people and we need to be helping both of them."
Amanda Cosby, a demonstrator who woke up before sunrise to get to the rally in Washington, D.C., told CNA that as an adoptee, she found the issue of opposing abortion "very close to my heart."
Cosby said she found the prevalence of abortion and Planned Parenthood's harvesting of organs "disgusting," and wanted the organization to stop hiding "behind this facade that what they do is help women when actually they are just pushing the big corporate agenda."
Instead, she offered, people "should stand up and demand that this be investigated, that their rights are protected, and that they are held accountable for what they're doing."
"We allow children who are not born, who can't speak for themselves, to be slaughtered in the millions," Cosby remarked. "Who is looking out for the people who have no voice?"