Category archives: Abortion

The New Religious Exemptions from the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Are a Victory for Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) Over State Coercion

by Peter Sprigg

October 12, 2017

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times has written a column critical of the Trump administration’s recent announcement of broad religious and moral exemptions to the HHS mandate under Obamacare that required employers to provide free contraception as part of any health insurance plan.

Greenhouse begins her column this way: “Saudi women are gaining the right to drive. American women are losing the right to employer-provided birth control.”

At least she was honest enough to not use the hyperbole of saying, “American women are losing birth control.” The government remains powerless to prevent women (or men) from purchasing and/or using birth control if they choose to. The vast majority are not even losing “employer-provided birth control,” since the percentage of employers likely to claim either a religious or moral objection is always likely to be tiny. No, they are only losing “the right to employer-provided birth control”—meaning the government will no longer coerce said employers into providing birth control.

However, this admirable precision in language means that her analogy with Saudi women simply does not work. American women are not losing “the right to use birth control,” which might be analogous to “the right to drive.” For the analogy to work, she would have to say, “Saudi women are gaining the right to employer-provided automobiles.”

But this, of course, is ridiculous. No one—in Saudi Arabia, or in the United States—has ever had “the right to employer-provided automobiles.” This, despite the fact that (I would argue) access to transportation is far more fundamental to having a free and prosperous life in the modern world than is access to birth control. We simply expect people who want to own automobiles to purchase them themselves. Of course, some people are too poor to buy a car, and must often rely on public transportation—but even that is not provided for free, but requires payment of a fare. What is so exceptional about birth control that private employers should be forced by the government to provide it at absolutely no cost to the user?

Greenhouse says, “I used to think … that the resistance to the contraception mandate was fueled by cultural conservatives’ determination not to let federal policy normalize birth control.” If this were the case, the new administration’s policy would still fall short. Since pregnancy is not a disease, contraception, when used merely as a method of family planning, is by definition an elective item or service, rather than a medically necessary one that should be subject to any coverage mandate. Yet the Trump administration has actually left the HHS mandate intact—while simply allowing a much more expansive exemption for the small number of employers with religious or moral objections.

Now, however, Greenhouse goes further in reading the minds of conservatives, declaring, “The problem they have is with what birth control signifies: empowering women — in school, on the job, in the home — to determine their life course.” This paranoid Handmaid’s Tale view of the world is simply bizarre. I guess Greenhouse is oblivious to the many conservative women— empowered and powerful, every one of them—who have led the fight against the HHS mandate from its beginning.

The headline on Greenhouse’s piece online reads, “On Contraception, It’s Church Over State.” Yet no church dogma has been imposed on anyone. It remains perfectly acceptable (in the eyes of the federal government) for women and men to purchase and use birth control. But now, it is also acceptable (as it always should have been, under the First Amendment) for some religious people to object to materially participating in the process. In reality, the new rules mean, “It’s Personal Freedom (and Responsibility) over State Coercion.”

I suspect what Greenhouse is really upset about is the Trump administration setting back the Left’s attempts to “establish” their own religion—the Church of the Sexual Revolution—whose most fundamental doctrine is the unlimited right not only to sex, but to sex without consequences, with the federal government as the guarantor of that “right.”

40 Days for Life: Offering Hope and Life One Vigil at a Time

by Arina Grossu

September 27, 2017

Arina O. Grossu, FRC’s director for the Center for Human Dignity, spoke last night at the 40 Days for Life 2017 opening event in Washington, D.C. Here are her remarks:

Good evening everyone. Thank you for being here. Every spring and fall in hundreds of cities worldwide, people gather as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign to pray for all of the mothers and babies who unfortunately end up at the doors of a Planned Parenthood. They pray not only for the protection of mothers, fathers, and babies that they be spared from the evil of abortion, but also for the conversion of all abortion workers and volunteers, and for an end to abortion itself. Participants of 40 Days for Life are part of a noble endeavor that has already borne so much fruit. Literally.

How effective exactly was 40 Days for Life this past spring alone? 637 babies were saved from abortion (8 here in fact), 13 abortion workers quit their jobs, and 9 abortion facilities closed.

On this 10th anniversary of 40 Days for Life and in their largest campaign yet, it is due to your efforts and those who have participated in 40 Days for Life that more than 13,300 babies are alive today. Some of these children are celebrating their 10th birthdays this year. What a great legacy for life!

Since the first 40 Days for Life in 2007, it has been present in 715 cities and 44 countries with 750,000 individual participants and 19,000 churches getting involved. Not only have over 13,000 babies been saved from abortion, but 154 abortion workers quit their jobs and 86 abortion facilities have closed.

We can and we must defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayers’ dollars to comprehensive health care centers. We must not accept anything less. It is a shame that a couple of naysaying Senate Republicans have determined the fate of the Graham-Cassidy bill and it will not go for a vote. In addition to repealing and replacing Obamacare, including halting taxpayer funding for abortion, this bill would have defunded Planned Parenthood. We must find other solutions.

Why is it urgent that we defund Planned Parenthood? Because Planned Parenthood commits about one-third of all U.S. abortions at 328,348 abortions per year, and is the single biggest abortion business in America. Planned Parenthood aborted 900 babies every single day in 2015—one baby every 96 seconds.

We must defund Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood hurts women and children. It is a sham of an organization.

From 2009 to 2015, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently decreased by close to two-thirds, breast exams have consistently decreased by over half (and we all know that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms), and prenatal services have steadily decreased by more than three-quarters. In fact, in 2015, Planned Parenthood committed 35 abortions for every prenatal service it provided. It also committed 114 abortions for every adoption referral it made. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2015-2016 report, out of total services for pregnant women (adoption referrals, prenatal services, abortion), abortion accounted for 96 percent.

Planned Parenthood has not only had a decrease in services, but also a decrease in patients. In 2015, it had 2.4 million patients—100,000 less patients than in 2014.

Yet while its patient base and purported services continue to decrease, in 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood received $554.6 million in combined federal, state, and local government grants and contracts, an increase of $900,000 since the year prior, and the highest in government funding that Planned Parenthood has ever received.

Additionally, its total revenue for 2015-2016 was about $1.354 billion, the highest in its history.

Of all funding received by Planned Parenthood, 41 percent comes from taxpayers’ pockets. Why are we subsidizing an organization that kills babies? We don’t need Planned Parenthood.

There are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers that can and should replace Planned Parenthood. They outnumber Planned Parenthood more than 20 to 1 nationally. They not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide such as mammograms, various immunizations, diabetes and glaucoma screenings, cholesterol screenings, well-child, mental health, and substance abuse services.

Imagine how much more we can do for women and children when an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds is restored for actual healthcare.

Remain steadfast because we are winning. As they say, “Keep calm and carry on.” Before we know it, Planned Parenthood will be obsolete. Planned Parenthood facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low, now down to 620 from 930 facilities, and 56 from 190 affiliates at their height.

There’s no better time than today to keep this momentum going. Our prayerful, loving presence in front of Planned Parenthoods and other abortion facilities rips at the very fabric of the abortion industry. Our prayerful presence exposes the dirty and evil deeds that go on behind these walls. Our prayerful presence reaches out to women in the depths of their despair and offers them a life-giving choice, for themselves and for their children. Our prayerful presence changes the hearts and minds of abortion workers. We are on the front lines fighting between life and death. Our task is to help every person we can to escape the grip of the evil of abortion. This is a sacred calling, one which we must not take lightly.

So from now until November 5, I invite you to once again join our brothers and sisters all around the world in building the culture of life—right here, right now. Take part in this 40 Days by praying and fasting, keeping a prayerful vigil outside of an abortion facility, and doing community outreach to spread the pro-life message. Get involved in your local efforts by visiting 40daysforlife.com. Remember that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). In these next 40 days, do something for life. You may never know all of the good effects your efforts for the cause of life in the next 40 days may make, or you may be blessed enough to one day hold a bright-eyed, pudgy, giggly baby who owes her life to your prayerful witness. Thank you.

Why Is Iceland “Eradicating” People With Down Syndrome?

by Daniel Hart

August 16, 2017

Yesterday, an article appeared on CBS News stating that “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” It turns out that Iceland has made prenatal screening for Down syndrome an enormously commonplace occurrence for pregnant mothers, which has resulted in “close to 100 percent” of them choosing to abort their babies.

It’s telling that the authors of the article chose to phrase this situation by saying Iceland has come close to “eradicating Down syndrome births,” as if this were akin to the country eradicating a disease like malaria.

One has to wonder, who convinced Iceland that people with Down syndrome are such a big problem that they must be completely eliminated from the entire country? According to Helga Sol Olafsdottir, an Icelandic hospital worker, “[w]e ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

As it turns out, just the opposite is true. A full 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives, while 97 percent “like who they are.” In addition, “[99] percent of parents said they loved their child with DS and 97 percent were proud of them,” and “96 percent [of siblings] indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with DS, with 94 percent of older siblings expressing feelings of pride.”

Seeing proof of this is as simple as doing a quick YouTube search for “down syndrome,” which produces dozens of examples that explode the anti-Downs prejudice that killing them before birth will “prevent suffering.” Here is a tiny sampling of how those with Downs are not only flourishing, but are bringing joy to all those around them:

Instead of “eradicating” a perceived health problem, Icelanders are unwittingly eradicating joy, happiness, and innocence from their midst.

Movie Review: “Alison’s Choice”

by Lauren Hand

July 13, 2017

The film  “Alison’s Choice” dramatizes a two-hour waiting period of a pregnant high school student while she awaits her abortion appointment. As Alison sits in the waiting room, she encounters God as a janitor, two other patients at the abortion facility, three medical staff, and a counselor. Alison speaks with God as He pleads with her to save her child, while revealing different reasons behind the problems in the world. As God converses with Alison, He also speaks with each one of the women in the waiting room in an effort to save them and their children. Alison asks God various questions about why He allows certain problems in the world to continue and why He is impeding on what she thinks is the “freedom” of her and the other girls at the facility to “simply live their lives.” God shows Alison her baby growing inside her womb and lets her know of His loving plan for them both.

Alison’s boyfriend Ricky, the father of the baby, is absent while she waits for her abortion appointment, and the time makes Alison reflect on their relationship. Ricky told her “to just get rid of it,” upon discovering that she was pregnant after pressuring her to have sex with him in the first place. God reveals He was present at each moment preceding Alison’s abortion appointment, and He recounts asking Ricky to “be a man” and to take care of Alison and their unborn daughter.

The medical staff at the center suspects that Alison is unsure about her abortion procedure, so they attempt to coax her. Alison first meets a counselor on staff at the center who encourages her to have the abortion because it “makes sense.” She then meets a married woman who has two children and believes she and her family are not prepared for a third, so she chose to have an abortion rather than telling her husband or her two other children she is pregnant. Alison then journeys beyond the waiting room to speak with an abortionist on staff as well as a nurse. The abortionist tells Alison that there is a “growing lump of tissue” inside of her, and it will inconvenience her and not allow her to go on with life.  The nurse is a single woman who is “celebrating” her 5,000th “termination” in her time in the abortion industry. She is delighted to not have a man or child to “serve” but instead carries three pictures of her cats around her neck who are her companions. The film then travels through various thoughts in Alison’s mind as she grapples with the life and death decision about her preborn daughter.  

The movie ends with Alison’s decision revealed. The film invites the audience to contemplate the realities that women and men face with an unplanned pregnancy. The rational moral consequences that can stem from the ordeal of abortion are made evident in the film through relatable characters. Despite some stereotypical moments, “Alison’s Choice” has a very plausible storyline and leaves the audience with an accurate representation of both the abortion industry and the difficult and often frightening reality of making decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy.   

Lauren Hand is an intern at Family Research Council.

Community Health Care Centers Offer Full Spectrum of Primary Care, Unlike Planned Parenthood

by Family Research Council

June 13, 2017

If Planned Parenthood is defunded in the health care bill currently before the Senate, won’t this deprive women of vital health care services?”

FRC has recently received a number of comments along these lines. While admitting that Planned Parenthood “has done some bad things,” some are still concerned that millions of women will be deprived of vital health care if the primary provider of abortions in America loses federal funding.

It is important to know that there are 13,540 federally-qualified, low-cost, high quality health care clinics and rural health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood 20 to 1 nationally. (By August 2017, there will be 620 Planned Parenthood facilities, down from 662 in 2015.) 

Women have real choices when it comes to healthcare, and they can find one of these clinics at GetYourCare.org. These federally-qualified health centers not only offer screening and prevention services, pap smears, cancer screenings, breast exams, and prenatal services, but they also offer a full spectrum of other primary care services that Planned Parenthood fails to provide, including:

  • Mammograms
  • A variety of immunizations
  • Diabetes and glaucoma screenings
  • Cholesterol screenings
  • Cardiovascular screening blood tests
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Eye, ear, and dental screenings
  • Preventive dental services
  • Well-child services
  • Medical nutrition services
  • Bone mass measurement
  • Social worker services
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Emergency medical services
  • And others

Federally-qualified health centers offered services for 21.7 million patients in 2013 compared to Planned Parenthood who served 2.7 million. That’s over eight times as many patients.

In 2014, federally-qualified health centers served approximately 23 million people. With an extra half a billion in taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood, these federally-qualified health centers could grow and expand their reach.

To see the sources for the above information and more, please visit frc.org/plannedparenthoodfacts.

FRC’s Arina Grossu Speaks at New D.C. Abortion Business Operated by Controversial Abortionist

by Arina Grossu

May 26, 2017

Yesterday, Arina Grossu, Family Research Council’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, along with other pro-life leaders held a press conference outside of a new D.C. abortion business that Steven Brigham, one of the most infamous abortionists in America, opened up. The following is a transcript of her speech:

It is incredibly unfortunate that we must be here today. It is an outrage and a shame that Steven Brigham, an incredibly dangerous and unscrupulous abortionist, has opened up a new abortion business in our nation’s capital. Brigham runs sham, Gosnell-like abortion operations wherever he sets up shop. Brigham has had his medical licenses revoked in six states because he practices illegal scams and gross negligence such as starting abortions in one state, then crossing state lines to complete them in order to skirt the rule of law. Brigham commits abortions, even late-term abortions, although he has never completed his residency in either obstetrics or gynecology.  

He was caught illegally committing abortions in Maryland although he was never licensed there.  He has operated at least two illegal late-term abortion businesses. Brigham was arrested in 2010 and even faced multiple counts of murder charges involving late-term abortions. 

He has lost at least $6.5 million in malpractice lawsuits and has injured many women including an 18-year-old woman who had such severe injuries that she had to be transported via helicopter to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. She was rushed into an emergency surgery where doctors removed the remains of her partially aborted baby, removed and repaired part of her injured small intestine, and repaired her ruptured uterus.

He has lied to previous landlords about the nature of his business and has been evicted from various offices, owing $37,000 in back rent to one Delaware landlord. He did not even tell this landlord about his abortion business until pro-life leaders told him. He also has a history of fraudulent billing practices.

This man is a danger to women and to society, trespassing the rule of law time and time again. 

Where is the outrage from Planned Parenthood or feminists who purport to care about women’s health and safety? We are deeply concerned about women’s health and safety at the hands of Brigham. His practice reveals to us the horrific and shocking reality of the abortion industry.

D.C. must immediately stop Brigham from bringing his horrific, shoddy abortion practice to our nation’s capital. We call on officials to close this business immediately. How has Brigham been able to hop around states, bringing with him his horrific abortion practices? Shouldn’t abortion facilities have more oversight than veterinary clinics, dentists’ offices, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors? All of our states and the District must pass abortion facility regulations to protect the health and safety of women from dangerous abortionists like Brigham.

Emotionally Manipulative Videos Can’t Save Planned Parenthood

by Daniel Hart

May 19, 2017

First, it was Star Wars director J.J. Abrams. Now, Avengers director Joss Whedon has joined the Planned Parenthood bandwagon. A Whedon-directed video entitled “UNLOCKED” was recently released portraying Planned Parenthood as the savior of women by providing cancer screenings, STD prevention classes, and birth control.

It’s a video that is long on emotional, slow-motion tracking shots accompanied by heart-rending orchestration, but short on factual reality. The first myth of “UNLOCKED” is that without Planned Parenthood, countless women would be robbed of vital cancer screenings. But this is simply not the case. According to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, they provide a fraction of care nationwide:

Planned Parenthood performed 271,539 Pap tests in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 28.1 million tests nationwide. That’s less than 1% of the nation’s Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood performed 363,803 clinical breast exams (these are not mammograms) in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 20 million exams nationwide. Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for clinical breast exams is 1.8%.

Planned Parenthood’s market share in the nation’s mammograms is 0.0%. Meaning, no, they do not provide any mammograms… at all.

It’s clear from these numbers that the 13,540 health care centers in the U.S. would have no problem picking up an additional 1-2% of cancer screenings, showing that Planned Parenthood is in no way “vital” to women’s health care.

Another myth propagated by the video is that women need birth control pills in order to save them from a life of uneducated misery in servitude to a baby. This is dramatized by showing a pregnant young woman crumpling up a college scholarship, while her mother wails in agony. But if “female empowerment” is the goal, why portray an unplanned pregnancy as a hopeless void? Can’t a situation that millions of women have experienced instead be an opportunity for new beginnings and the pursuit of new dreams? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Here is another example. And here is a direct response to Whedon’s video from a woman who experienced an unplanned pregnancy herself: “Unlike the video, I had scholarships and I used them and I kept them because that’s obviously an option. And I succeeded.”

An additional glaring hypocrisy presented in “UNLOCKED” is that it positively portrays STD prevention classes and birth control pills side by side as if both are vital services to promote young women’s health. But if preventing STDs is the goal, birth control pills certainly aren’t going to help. They will in fact heighten the problem if used by young, unmarried women because of the lifestyle they inherently promote: consequence-free sex with whoever you want.

All of this is mere window dressing to what Planned Parenthood’s business is really all about: abortion. It’s by far the most massive irony in “UNLOCKED”—the biggest “service” that Planned Parenthood provides isn’t given even a passing mention in the video. One third of all abortions committed in the U.S. are done at Planned Parenthood, and the resulting baby body parts are sold for profit. It’s no surprise that Joss Whedon decided not to include that scene in the final cut.

New Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain

by Arina Grossu

May 16, 2017

This article first appeared at CareNet.


This new research shows that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex by the time most women find out they are pregnant.

A study published in March 2017 reveals “adult-like” pattern of nerves established before the end of the first trimester. This new dose of science and technology should inform our fetal pain debate.

The study generated 3D images at the cellular level of actual human embryos ranging from 6 to 14 weeks gestation (4 to 12 weeks post-fertilization), as never before seen. These images show nerve, muscular, cardiovascular, and other organ system development. The results are incredible. For example, below is an image of the complex peripheral nerves of an embryo at 7 to 8 weeks gestation (5-6 weeks post-fertilization):

fetal pain.png

The second image shows the nerves on the right hand of embryos from 7-11 weeks gestation (5-9 weeks post-fertilization). Even at 7 weeks gestation, the development is quite advanced—even more so at 11 weeks. All of this is happening in the first trimester!

fetal pain 2.png

What this new research shows is that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex even by 5 weeks post-fertilization when quite often, the mom is only finding out that she is pregnant after missing her first period. We already know that “pain receptors appear around the mouth at 4 to 5 weeks post-fertilization, followed by the development of nerve fibers, which carry stimuli to the brain. Around 6 weeks post-fertilization, the unborn child first responds to touch. By 18 weeks post-fertilization, pain receptors have appeared throughout the body.”

We also know that there is no question, biologically speaking, about whether an unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization at the very latest, since by then they have the full anatomy to process pain and also the neurobiology to transmit painful sensations to the brain and to perceive pain. Studies show that babies can feel pain by their increased hormonal stress response and by wincing when they are exposed to painful stimuli.

It should come as no surprise that it is common practice for doctors to administer anesthesia before performing in-utero surgeries on preborn babies. When administered, anesthesia decreases the stress response in preborn babies when compared to their hormone levels when painful stimuli are applied without any anesthesia. Twenty states have already passed laws banning abortions after 18 or 20 weeks post-fertilization because of the capacity for unborn children to experience pain, with Iowa being the latest to pass such legislation.

A few weeks ago, people gathered for the March for Science. If we are to be honest, science shows us the clear-cut reality and complexity of embryonic development in the earliest weeks of the first trimester. This is an inconvenient reality for those who rely on ideology instead of science to deny the humanity of preborn children and their capacity to feel pain.

In our culture, there are those who will have more compassion for animals than for babies who are given a death sentence because of their age and location. We will continue to fight until every one of these vulnerable preborn babies are protected — by our laws and our culture. It is not enough to recognize that these children feel pain when aborted; we must empower those around us to make life-affirming choices. Only then will our nation become one where it is safe to be in the womb.

Yes, Trump’s HHS Appointee Charmaine Yoest is Pro-Life. Deal With It

by Daniel Hart

May 3, 2017

Predictably, there has been a rash of hit-pieces in the mainstream media over the last few days targeting Charmaine Yoest, President Trump’s pick to serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Most of the attacks leveled at Yoest, who formerly worked here at FRC, focus on the fact that she served as president of Americans United for Life, a national pro-life advocacy group. These attacks are yet the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the media to label virtually anybody who works for pro-life causes as “extreme,” despite the fact that over half of the country identifies as “pro-life.” What has been conveniently left out of many of these stories is that Yoest will be replacing Kevin Griffis, who is now working for Planned Parenthood. So according to the liberal media, Yoest simply isn’t pro-abortion enough to hold a position at HHS.

She has also been repeatedly ridiculed for supposedly claiming that “abortion causes breast cancer.” This is false and misleading in a number of ways. In a 2012 New York Times interview, she said that “abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” not that it directly causes it. Beyond this, there is substantial evidence to back Yoest’s claim. According to research catalogued by the National Institutes of Health in 2014, there have been 28 epidemiological studies that have shown a positive link between abortion and breast cancer, with 21 of these “pointing to a statistically significant risk.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is often cited as denying any links, but some of NCI’s own published findings actually support the link, and one of its own doctors further acknowledges the link between breast cancer and abortion.

This abortion-breast cancer dustup is an obvious attempt by the media to quickly discredit Yoest without having to do any kind of in-depth research that would reveal her true character and qualifications for the HHS position. A quick Google News search of “Charmaine Yoest” illustrates the depth of the pro-abortion bias in the media: 10 of the top 12 stories are clearly unfavorable toward her; six of these are blatant hit-pieces. But to any honest observer of the public square, this should be unsurprising. Yoest has publicly stated her pro-life views on a variety of topics over the years, and has been praised as “one of the pro-life movement’s most articulate and powerful communicators.” This means she is an easy target of progressives.

Nevertheless, Yoest’s appointment is a signal of hope for our country. After eight long years of Obama’s Democratic Party pro-abortion litmus tests, an unabashedly pro-life American can now serve her country at the highest levels of government.

Students for Life Holds #Sockit2PP Rally Outside U.S. Capitol

by Joshua Denton

April 27, 2017

323,999.

That is the number of babies that were killed by Planned Parenthood in 2015.

To clearly illustrate the immensity of this tragedy, the #Sockit2PP campaign was started by Students for Life in March with the intent of creating a simultaneously impressive and shocking visual appeal while also sending a clear message to Congress: now is the time to defund Planned Parenthood.

The #Sockit2PP campaign efforts culminated yesterday as members of the Students for Life team hosted a rally outside the United States Capitol in which they displayed 196,543 socks. The socks have been collected as a result of their campaign to collect 323,999 socks—representative of the number of babies killed in 2015 (the latest numbers available) by the nation’s largest abortion purveyor, Planned Parenthood.

The campaign was inspired by a tiny baby sock which was pinned to the backpack of a Students for Life college group member. Kristan Hawkins, Founder and President of Students for Life, realized the visual symbol could become a powerful national rallying cry.

The campaign has reached over half of its goal in numbers of socks, but decided to hold a rally outside of the United States Capitol now in spite of not yet reaching their final goal.

I think it’s really important to create a visual for people to see,” said Missy Stone, National Field Director for Students for Life. “323,999 is a lot more than people anticipate. People just don’t understand; people say that number flippantly.” Missy noted that when people just hear a number, it doesn’t really resonate, but when they get a visual of over 190,000 empty infant socks, it gives people an idea of the awful reality of how many abortions are truly happening.

Missy said that the campaign created a very real way of providing the pro-life generation a channel with which to generate a national message to Congress that enough is enough—that it’s time to defund Planned Parenthood now.

Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life, talked about the effects the demonstration had on people who were walking by as the display was being set up in preparation for the rally. “I was telling them and their jaws dropped because this is the [visual] reality of what happens when we don’t defund Planned Parenthood,” Hawkins said prior to the rally. She noted that the socks on display were only a representation of roughly half of the babies who are aborted every year by Planned Parenthood. “This is the reality of the GOP not acting to defund Planned Parenthood, and we are here today letting them know we expect them to hold to your word to defund Planned Parenthood,” remarked Hawkins.

The rally featured various speakers such as Alison Howard, Director of Alliance Relations for Alliance Defending Freedom; Sue Thayer, former abortion facility director; and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. During the rally, Sue Thayer noted that “we still have a lot of work to do. Think of what we could do with the 500 million dollars we funnel into Planned Parenthood [if it were] in the hands of pregnancy care centers.”

A number of high school and college students also spoke briefly. Purity Thomas, a young teen, collected over 1,000 baby socks for the initiative. She told the story of her sister who became pregnant at 19 and dropped out of college and the National Guard to carry and raise her child, who is now three years old. “[Planned Parenthood]’s workers ‘have to hit the gym’ in order to crush the skulls of preborn boys and girls. This is a[n] organization that kills our brothers and sisters,” she said, urging students to get involved in spreading the pro-life message. “How as a nation have we allowed this? … This is the time in our country when we need to stand up and look in the face of Planned Parenthood and say enough is enough.”

Senator Ben Sasse emphasized the importance of being charitable when speaking the truth about abortion: “America exists to fight for the most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic proposition, but a human proposition. The first thing we are trying to do is to persuade our brothers and sisters to look at the gift of life and look at the glories of what is actually happening inside the womb, and tell the truth about how each baby has dignity. This picture that you’re trying to create today is another special way to tell the story of what we’re about, because what we are about is about love, what we are about is about neighborly-ness, what we’re about is about dignity.”

Emily Brown, the Youth Director at American Life League, reminded the audience that Planned Parenthood is on the defense right now. “The pro-life generation is stronger than ever before,” Brown said.

Deanna Wallace, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life, posed the question, “Planned Parenthood markets themselves as ‘care no matter what’ but what kind of care are they actually giving women?” Wallace then cited multiple health violations such as failing to ensure a safe and sanitary environment, failing to document and protect patient recordings, failing to properly train staff, failing to dispose of expired medications and supplies, and failure to comply with health measures like making sure a gurney can reach a patient if she goes into distress. “It’s … important to remember that this ‘care’ [Planned Parenthood] is offering to women is not care at all. They are endangering women every day, and women deserve better!”

To wrap up the rally, Kristan Hawkins introduced Maddi Runkles, an 18-year-old student at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md. “I’m eighteen years old and I found out back in January that I was pregnant,” Runkles said. As a senior in high school with her whole life ahead of her, she admitted to briefly considering abortion because of the lies that Planned Parenthood tells girls like her.

I look at all these socks and that could have been my baby, but I choose to let my baby wear these socks. I know it’s going to be hard, I know it’s going to be really hard to still accomplish all my goals and all my dreams,” Runkles said, her voice shaking with emotion. “But I get to have a little guy following right next to me and we get to do it together.” Runkles went on to point out that girls like her are perfect targets for Planned Parenthood, which ironically claims to be all about women’s rights, but instead pushes a less than empowering message by telling a woman that she can’t do it. “I chose life for my baby and I chose not to believe the lies that Planned Parenthood told me. Congress needs to defund Planned Parenthood and take all their tax money away,” Runkles concluded.

The #Sockit2PP rally was a sobering yet encouraging demonstration, showing that there is a strong chorus of voices speaking up for the voiceless in our nation’s capital. With more creative displays of this nature, more and more hearts and minds will change and realize that women deserve better than Planned Parenthood and abortion.

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