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Archbishop, pro-lifers protest Planned Parenthood

August 28, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

Hundreds of Bay Area residents protested Planned Parenthood and its sale of aborted baby parts for research, gathering to pray at clinics in Marin, San Mateo and San Francisco as part of a national day of protest Aug. 22 that drew tens of thousands to more than 320 Planned Parenthood locations nationwide.

In San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone joined the pro-life demonstration, speaking briefly and praying with the activists outside a Planned Parenthood clinic on Valencia Street.

“The pain is so deep,” said the archbishop. “Thank you for bearing witness and let us pray that God might bless our land with peace and life.”

“I’m here because I’ve seen the videos,” said Brittany Morgan, 26, holding her 1-month old son Micah at the demonstration in San Francisco. “I’m more than angry. I never knew what was happening to these babies after they’ve been aborted.”

The National Day of Protest, sponsored by more than 40 pro-life organizations, was sparked by revelations in a series of undercover videos shot by the Center for Medical Progress that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal tissue from aborted babies. The videos, shot over a period of two and half years, are being released at a rate of about one a week.

The eighth video, released Aug. 21, allegedly showed the top executive of Placerville based StemExpress joking about shipping intact aborted babies’ corpses to research labs.

The head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, wrote a letter Aug. 3 to urge senators to support S. 1881, which would defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and instead fund women’s health providers that do not promote abortion. “It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation’s largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year,” he wrote.

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, protesters prayed outside Planned Parenthood locations in San Francisco, Redwood City, San Mateo, San Rafael and South San Francisco. About 130 people gathered outside the Redwood City clinic on El Camino Real, a crowd that included parishioners from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in East Palo Alto; Church of the Nativity and St. Anthony in Menlo Park; and St. Pius, in Redwood City. Protestant ministers joined the about 120 people who prayed and held signs outside the Planned Parenthood in San Rafael.

Nicole, 28, and Bill Hull, 27, said the videos were distressing particularly because they are expecting their first child in a week (who was blessed in utero by the archbishop that day outside the San Francisco clinic). “It really hits home,” said Bill Hull. “Getting to see all the ultrasounds, going through the whole process – we are just finding it really hard to see how anybody could ever say it is not a human being.”

Jennifer Hernandez traveled to San Francisco from Stockton with her husband, because San Francisco has the highest abortion rate in the country. The couple has three children. “Every baby is wanted by someone even if you can’t take care of him yourself – somebody wants him,” Hernandez said.

The National Day of Protest of Planned Parenthood, #ProtestPP, drew crowds as large as 1,600 in Aurora, Illinois, and 850 in Falls Church, Virginia. Five hundred gathered outside the clinic in San Jose.

In its mission statement, #ProtestPP, whose main sponsors were Created Equal, the Pro-Life Action League, 40 Days for Life, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, stated: “Our goal is to raise awareness of the heartless and even illegal activities of Planned Parenthood by going to where the killing and harvesting of body parts from aborted children takes place.”

The videos have drawn scrutiny from state and federal leaders, and five states have moved to withdraw Medicaid funding from their local Planned Parenthood branches.

Top officials of Planned Parenthood dispute what the videos show, saying they have been edited to distort the interviews and any mention of money for tissue and body parts is related to customary handling fees charged the researchers. The center has posted the videos in their entirety on its website, www.centerformedicalprogress.org, and it plans to release several more.

Catholic News Service contributed

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