With more to come, videos mobilize ‘pro-life generation’

| August 12, 2015 | 0 Comments
Father Nick VanDenBroeke, left, of Divine Mercy in Faribault holds a sign reading “I am the pro-life generation” in Spanish at a pro-life rally July 28 at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Father Nick VanDenBroeke, left, of Divine Mercy in Faribault holds a sign reading “I am the pro-life generation” in Spanish at a pro-life rally July 28 at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

“See for yourself.”

It’s a invitation that will appear hanging from door knobs across the metro in the coming months urging residents to watch the undercover video series the Center for Medical Progress launched exposing what it believes to be Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of organs from aborted fetuses.

The door-to-door campaign is one part of Pro-Life Action Ministries’ efforts to end public support for Planned Parenthood, Minnesota’s largest abortion provider. The St. Paul-based organization’s work has gained new momentum in the wake of the videos, said its president, Brian Gibson.

“Planned Parenthood is under fire in Congress,” Gibson said. “It’s become the topic in the political debates in the presidential race that has already started. Those that are defending Planned Parenthood . . . find themselves in a position they don’t want to be in because the American public is very upset over these videos.”

As of Aug. 11, the California-based Center for Medical Progress had released five videos — with promises of more to come — featuring undercover footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal body parts for profit and altering abortion procedures to obtain intact organs.

From left, Kara Klingenberg and Madeline Alinder of Epiphany in Coon Rapids hold signs expressing their pro-life views at a rally at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul July 28. Pro-Life Action Ministries and Students for Life of America co-sponsored the event, which drew more than 800 pro-life supporters. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

From left, Kara Klingenberg and Madeline Alinder of Epiphany in Coon Rapids hold signs expressing their pro-life views at a rally at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul July 28. Pro-Life Action Ministries and Students for Life of America co-sponsored the event, which drew more than 800 pro-life supporters. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Local rally draws crowd

In response to the videos, Pro-Life Action Ministries partnered with Students for Life of America to host a pro-life rally outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul July 28. The event drew more than 800 people, including state legislators.

Gibson said the rally is evidence the political landscape of abortion is changing.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a rally out in front of Planned Parenthood where elected public officials spoke at it,” he said. “It’s so encouraging to have that. We’ve developed relationships with state legislators that we’ve never had before.”

Seven members of the Minnesota House of Representatives came and spoke briefly at the rally: Reps. Abigail Whelan (R, District 35A), Eric Lucero (R, 30B), Matt Dean (R, 38B), Mary Franson (R, 8B), Jon Koznick (R, 58A), Tim Miller (R, 17A) and Kathy Lohmer (R, 39B).

Several groups came to the rally by bus, including 55 parishioners from Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Eric Duffy, high school youth minister for the parish, organized the trip.

“We have a lot of awesome pro-life people in our parish,” Duffy said. “A lot of the youth in my program are really very passionate about this, too.”

Among them were Kara Klingenberg and Madeline Alinder, who held pro-life signs for people to see as they drove past the Planned Parenthood facility.

“I think this is really important,” Klingenberg said. “There are a lot of youth here. I am the pro-life generation. I’m really hopeful about this.”

Angela Erickson, northern regional coordinator for Students for Life, was one of the rally’s speakers. Thirty-eight  weeks pregnant, she said she easily pushed aside any personal discomfort in order to spread an important message and help garner further support for the pro-life movement.

“My reaction to the videos has been a myriad of emotions,” Erickson said. “Initially I was sad and angry, but now I’m focusing on the fact that we finally have a great opportunity to finally get Congress to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

Erickson noted that similar rallies were taking place in cities across the country the same day. She sees this as a sign that the tide on abortion is turning in the U.S.

“I think, for the first time, abortion supporters have to acknowledge the fact that their movement is callous,” Erickson said. “What has been revealed by these videos forces everyone in this country to examine their conscience and ask themselves, ‘Why have we let this happen?’ I strongly feel this will bring together individuals on both sides in a big way.”

Local investigation push

In July, the first Center for Medical Progress video prompted 65 state legislators to call for Gov. Mark Dayton to investigate Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, which operate 20 locations in the three states. Surgical abortion services are offered at its centers in St. Paul, Rochester and Sioux Falls.

Gov. Dayton declined to launch an investigation. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no basis for an investigation at taxpayer expense into a private, nonprofit organization that has stated they don’t engage in those practices here in Minnesota,” he said.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, reiterated in a statement on its website that the local Planned Parenthood affiliate does not “currently engage in any tissue donation for research.”

She added: “But such research is a crucial aspect of scientific inquiry and is important to improving health care.”

After the release of the second video in July, Republican leaders in Minnesota’s Legislature renewed their demand for a local investigation.

The videos have prompted national calls for removing taxpayer-funding for Planned Parenthood. A measure to do so failed by seven votes Aug. 3 in a Senate procedural vote. Other efforts to defund the organization are expected.

Despite roadblocks, the pro-life movement is continuing forward in important ways, said Gibson, a parishioner of St. Michael in Prior Lake. He has organized rallies that take place every Friday at noon at Planned Parenthood. Pro-Life Action Ministries is also co-sponsoring the National Protest of Planned Parenthood Aug. 22, another large rally, from 9 a.m. to noon at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul.

Gibson is hopeful about the pro-life movement’s trajectory, in part because he believes the U.S. has entered a time when the mainstream media do not have a monopoly on information people receive — or don’t receive — on the issue of abortion. Alternative media, like the undercover videos and other postings on the Internet, are helping to get the pro-life message in front of an increasing number of Americans, including those who have supported abortion.

“Because of this day and age we’re in, people are able to see things we’ve been trying to get people to see for a very long time,” he said.

That’s why Pro-Life Action Ministries is taking their message door-to-door with the “See for yourself” campaign, which will include material with a link to the Center for Medical Progress’ videos. Gibson’s goal is to place 30,000 door hangers at people’s homes.

For more information about Pro-Life Action Ministries’ efforts, visit plam.org. Watch and learn more about the videos at centerformedicalprogress.org.

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