Planned Parenthood has been under fire in recent weeks, ever since a San Jose, Calif.-based anti-abortion group called Live Action released footage from several clinics, indicating that staff members were willing to aid sex traffickers in the exploitation of underage girls.
In response, anti-abortion groups called for a nationwide vigil to be held from noon to 1 p.m. in front of Planned Parenthood clinics on Monday.
Tracy Simmons of Acworth, a mother of four whose children attend Pickett’s Mill Elementary and Durham Middle School, was among those who stood in protest.
“The videos are showing that Planned Parenthood Corporation is allowing a system-wide participation and tolerance for this kind of activity,” Simmons said. “They’re so deceived. Deception is complete. I mean, from what you read, if you look at Planned Parenthood’s leaders, and what they’re writing, and their origins, there’s just real evil there. Do you know what I mean? Evil. It’s population control. It’s playing God.”
In response to the allegations and the vigil, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Leola Reis said her organization was composed of health professionals focused on their patients, not on protestors. Reis, who said her group has been providing health services in Marietta for more than 25 years, said her staff works here because they care about women and men’s health. Planned Parenthood patients can always count on staff to stay focused on delivering the care they need and deserve, she said.
“In recent weeks, supporters of Planned Parenthood have told us they are alarmed by the highly political attacks on our organization and our wonderful staff,” Reis said. “Our supporters, many of whom were once our patients, want us to stay focused on providing essential, lifesaving health care to everyone who needs it. Our supporters are strongly opposed to all efforts to harm Planned Parenthood and the women and young people we care for. Those who truly care about preventing unintended pregnancies would work with Planned Parenthood to increase access to prevention initiatives like birth control and age-appropriate, evidence-based sex education.”
But protestor and paralegal Colleen Sullivan of Marietta, a mother of three, said she objects to Planned Parenthood receiving tax money.
“They get a million dollars every day, for every day of the year, from our tax dollars,” Sullivan said. “Three-hundred-sixty-three million was their last financial statement they received from our tax money, and it does not go to family planning. That is not their moneymaker. It’s abortion. Each woman that walks in there is paying $500 to $1,000 for an abortion.”
David Hall, a software developer, and his wife, Ann, who live in Smyrna and attend Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Sandy Springs, were among the protestors, holding signs that read, “Tell Congress No Tax Dollars for Planned Parenthood.”
“It is Valentine’s Day,” Ann Hall said. “The day of love. And abortion is kind of the antithesis of love.”
David Hall said one fact people may not realize is that Planned Parenthood is “the number one provider of abortions in the United States.”
Grisselle Lares-Bazzani of Kennesaw, who has one son at Mercer Law School and another at Blessed Trinity in Roswell, chairs a pro-life group called 40 Days for Life.
“(Planned Parenthood) will provide information on how to get an abortion,” Lares-Bazzani explained. “They will never ever tell you the consequences of the abortion. They will never ever refer you to a pregnancy center. So that’s what we are against. They don’t give you the option. The only option they give you is yes go with your abortion.”
Photographer Tim Harman of Marietta, the father of a 5-month-old son, said he too was protesting to stop tax money from going to the organization.
“They provide abortions, and we want to see an end to that. It’s killing innocent human beings,” Harman said. “I think of abortion in much the same way that people used to think of slavery. At the time it was socially acceptable, and that is much the same way that we look upon abortion today. I look at historical figures like William Wilberforce that fought for years upon years to end the slave trade in the British Empire. I’m trying to fight to end abortion.”