A reporter takes a picture of a protester in front of Planned Parenthood in Fitchburg 4-29-18

On Saturday in Fitchburg I attended one of the Defund Planned Parenthood protests that took place around the country as the speaker.

While nationally the effort ran afoul of GOP senators John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski In Massachusetts the effort is a tad different as it is necessary to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to do so here. So there is a need to obtain signature to get a ballot question started.

She spoke to a reporter from the Telegram earlier

Gardner resident Shelley Austin said that Massachusetts is one of only 15 states that use tax dollars to pay for abortions, which she said are a covered procedure through MassHealth.

She said that the Massachusetts Alliance to Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortion is trying to put the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion before Massachusetts voters. They are working to collect the 65,000 signatures required to get a question on the ballot.

I spoke to Shelly after the rally.

The reporter for the Telegram and Gazette spoke to several of us before the event including me.

Fitchburg resident Pete Ingemi, a longtime member of St. Bernard’s Church, said fighting taxpayer-funded abortion is the first and most logical step to ending abortions.

“What is abortion? It is the abandonment of hope,” he said. “And the argument is always that it isn’t a real life, but it is a life, and it’s a life of value. You never know what great things that human being was going to make happen.”

and stayed for most of the rosary but not for either Shelly talk or my speech

In Fitchburg, a similar, but smaller prayer protest was held on Main Street near the Planned Parenthood office. A small group, some holding rosary beads, shared their commitment to stopping abortion.

Situated under the shade of a tree, the group got plenty of support in the form of thumbed-up hands sticking out of passing cars, beeping horns and the occasional affirmative shout. There were also passers-by who strongly disagreed — though just one or two — and organizer Joyce Aucoin said this is nothing new.

The detail left out here was man who repeatedly approached Joyce as she spoke, loudly loudly asking her for condoms, he left when it was clear she was not going to let him provoke her.

As for my speech I pointed out that Planned Parenthood was built on the same lies that justified slavery from the days of ancient Egypt, to Roman times, to the Barbary Pirates to the slave trade. The idea that those enslaved were either of lesser values or not actual human beings. It is no coincidence that like most other places it operates, Planned Parenthood moved into Fitchburg as the “Hispanic” population increased.

Furthermore I pointed out that the easiest way to reveal the lie is to ask any counter-protester supporting “choice” if it is OK to abort a child in the womb because it was gay. Suddenly the woman’s choice argument isn’t good enough and the person always has to think, why? Because in their mind that person might be of their group which suddenly confers a value on that life that they didn’t before.

But the easiest way to show how carefully the lie has to be taught was illustrated by a model of a 20 week old baby in the womb.

Put that model in front of any child and ask what it is, and the answer will be “a baby”. To produce a different answer, you have to be carefully taught.

Will it make a difference? It will be tough to win this fight in Massachusetts, particularly when a lot of the GOP leadership has been carefully taught to run away from this issue, but as the man who actually wrote the Constitution of Massachusetts once said, facts are stubborn things.

To say he would be appalled at how partisans have rewritten and reinterpreted his words in their image while still claiming it was his work and not theirs, is an understatement.

The Twitterverse murmured #ThankYouCecile the other day to mark the end of Cecile Richards’s tenure leading the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Hats off to the Babylon Bee for skewering that bit of social media hashtagging: “Woman Celebrated for Killing 3.5 Million People.”

That satirical bull’s eye came just a few days after another one from the same source: “Planned Parenthood Defends Bill Cosby: ‘Sexual Assault Is Only 3% Of What He Does’”. I wish I’d written that.

But in all seriousness, Richards is a consequential woman. It would be a mistake to pretend otherwise. Planned Parenthood has had high-profile leaders before and will have them again. What sets Richards apart are the sheer bloody numbers and her solid brass determination.

PP is now the nation’s leading abortion provider, with more than 321,384 “abortion services” provided in FY 2016 alone. In the same year, according to PP’s annual report, revenue was $1.459 billion, of which $543 million came from taxpayers.

That transfer of funds from your pocket into PP’s, on such an appalling scale, was made possible because of a false message that Cecile Richards delivered unceasingly and confidently: abortion is health care. She didn’t invent the message, but she honed it to a fine edge and wielded it like a surgeon.

She knew that quibbling over what abortion terminates wasn’t good for business. Even seeing abortion as a “right” wasn’t enough to fulfill her vision. Selling abortion as health care, as a positive good, was the message she used to elevate PP to the economic and cultural position it now holds.

The political influence, the virtual extortion of funds from taxpayers and fellow nonprofits alike (cf. the Komen breast-cancer charity), the serene composure with which she dismissed the damning videos documenting the sale of fetal body parts by some PP affiliates: all of it can be explained and defended by buying into her defining message, abortion is health care.

Politicians don’t want to support taxpayer dollars going to the nation’s largest abortion provider? (Hey, I can dream.) They’re after your health care. A pastor speaks out in defense of human life? He’s after your health care. A journalist documents commerce in fetal body parts; a court upholds an abortion regulation, however mild; peaceful pro-life witnesses pray silently outside a PP facility: what they’re really after is your health care.

Abortion is health care is a hellishly lucrative legacy for PP. It’s the message that keeps half a million of your dollars going to the nation’s leading abortion provider. No wonder Richards was rewarded with compensation in excess of half a million dollars a year.

Health care and abortion are two different things. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort for the truth to regain its rightful place. Don’t ever doubt that one person can make a difference. Look at what Cecile Richards left behind.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist. She covers New Hampshire public policy on the life issues at leavenfortheloaf.com.  

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Related stories come to us from Connecticut and California, where “anti-abortion” centers (in the parlance of the Hartford Courant) are getting some pushback.

From the Courant, 11/10/17:

The city is looking to crack down on faith-driven crisis pregnancy centers, which critics say sometimes pose as clinics to lure women and hand out misleading information about abortions.

Under a measure headed for the city council, the so-called anti-abortion centers in Hartford would be required to disclose whether staff members have medical licenses, and would be banned from engaging in false or deceptive advertising practices.

When abortion advocates like NARAL start talking about “deliberate misinformation and lies,” I’m a bit skeptical. Why the sudden concern? Aha: the Hartford Women’s Center, where abortions are neither provided nor promoted, opened up in May just behind an abortion facility. The facility’s supporters find the proximity irksome.

Not content to mutter darn pro-lifers, stay outta my yard, Hartford-area abortion promoters are trying to get themselves an ordinance. But there’s this thing about ordinances: they come with public hearings. Ten days after the Courant article was published, the hearing on the proposed ordinance drew a packed house.  CBS Connecticut reported that pro-life advocates outnumbered NARAL’s allies.

Outcome is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, out on the left coast, a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information (in large font in a “conspicuous place”) about state-funded abortions is headed to the Supreme Court. 

Apparently, business is so lousy at California abortion facilities that the state must compel other facilities to help provide advertising for abortion services.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California law, which is no surprise, since…well, Ninth Circuit. Similar laws in Maryland and New York have been struck down in other Circuits. With divided conclusions and a First Amendment issue before it, the Supreme Court agreed this month to take the California case.

I have no doubt that abortion facility operators in every state are watching Hartford’s proposed ordinance and California’s law to see what happens.

In my state’s largest city, a pro-life pregnancy help center opened a couple of years ago just around the corner from a Planned Parenthood office. It’s hard to believe that the $23 million PP affiliate might ever feel threatened by the storefront operation that serves pregnant and parenting women with clothing, equipment, and referrals.

Then again, I find it hard to believe that any state actually passed a law like California’s or that any city contemplated an ordinance like the one proposed in Hartford. Eternal vigilance is the price of service, when the service is providing and promoting alternatives to abortion.