‘It’s a Human Decency Thing’

Tens of thousands turn out for national protest against and prayer vigil for Planned Parenthood.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, addresses participants of the Planned Parenthood prayer vigil and protest on Aug. 22 outside the Aurora, Ill., abortion facility.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, addresses participants of the Planned Parenthood prayer vigil and protest on Aug. 22 outside the Aurora, Ill., abortion facility. (photo: Facebook/Pro-Life Action League)

NAPA, Calif. — The momentum against Planned Parenthood continues to build nationally: In a second nationwide protest against Planned Parenthood’s selling of aborted babies’ body parts to scientists for experimentation, tens of thousands of Americans turned out Aug. 22 at 342 locations around the country.

According to pro-life estimates, the national protests drew more than five times as many participants as similar rallies organized in late July.

“Enthusiasm was huge and outstanding. Hundreds of news stories were generated, pushing this scandal further into the minds and hearts of the American people,” said Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler, whose organization spearheaded the “National Day of Protest.”

More than 50 pro-life groups across the nation took part, with “a massive turnout of people coming out to abortion clinics for the very first time in their lives,” Scheidler reported.

“I feel like this is a bipartisan issue. It’s not a pro-choice, pro-life thing. It’s a human decency thing,” protester and mother Kelsey Kurtinitis told reporters in Des Moines, Iowa. “There is a line in the sand: Which side are you on? There is a quote that says silence in the face of evil is evil itself, and so I just decided I can’t be silent; and I think that’s how a lot of these people felt today.”

On the morning of Aug. 24, as reports continued to trickle in from around the country, Scheidler had an estimated head count of more than 67,000 people who had come out for the protest.

“That’s with 272 of 342 sites reporting,” he said. Estimates of the largest crowds were: 4,000 in St. Paul, Minn.; 1,600 in Phoenix; 1,600 in Aurora, Ill.; 1,100 in Tempe, Ariz.; and 1,000 in Cincinnati.

Like the “Women Betrayed Rally” on July 28, which drew approximately 12,000 people (mostly young women) in 65 cities, the National Day of Protest was sparked by public outrage over a series of covert investigative videos recorded by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress. The videos show Planned Parenthood employees apparently discussing the sale of aborted babies’ body parts — and sometimes whole bodies — for profit.

Planned Parenthood of America CEO Cecile Richards defends selling what Planned Parenthood calls “fetal tissue.” Organization officials say such “tissue” is donated to researchers and only with the knowledge and consent of the mother.

Although most of the Aug. 22 protests across the nation were peaceful, a few people did show up to counter-protest.

“We had a very bizarre incident in the Detroit area, where two different protests were visited by Satanists, who performed this bizarre ritual whereby they poured milk over women and chanted in strange tongues,” Scheidler said.


California Praying

But that was the oddest event that occurred, and it wasn’t the norm.

In northern California wine country, the protest in Napa was organized by local 40 Days for Life leader Ron Maxson. About 100 protesters gathered before a local Planned Parenthood office. Breaking into groups of two or three, they quietly prayed the Rosary and other prayers for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, a few counter-protesters screamed abortion-rights slogans in the background, and drivers honked their car horns as they passed by.

At one point after the prayers ended, an angry young woman in jeans, with long white, pink and purple hair, began screaming, “Babies don’t matter! Adult lives matter more! My body, my choice! My body, my choice!” A man who had been holding a placard reading, “Real Men Regret Their Lost Fatherhood” grabbed a white megaphone and shouted back, “Give babies a choice! Give babies a choice!”

Outshouted, the young woman glowered and snapped, “Get out of the Dark Ages. It’s 2015, honey.” Then she stomped away in disgust.

One pro-life mother of five found the incident very sad. “Poor thing,” she reflected. “I wonder how many abortions she’s had.” 

Elaborated the mother, “A lot of the time, the only way any of us feel we can process tragedy is by becoming angry: at others, at ourselves, at God. The greater the tragedy, the greater the anger,” she replied. “The problem is that anger never heals. And deep down, isn’t that what we’re all looking for — healing?”



The majority of the two dozen or so supporters of Planned Parenthood who showed up at the Napa event, however, were less confrontational and more questioning.

“I’m not particularly fond of abortion. Who is? But I am for a woman’s right to choose,” said Kim Castro, who stood with a small group on a corner across the street from the main protest. “It’s her body. You have no right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my own body. It’s a woman’s choice. She’s the one who has to live with the consequences, not you.”

Eying a reporter suspiciously and declining to give her name, a middle-aged woman standing next to Kim chimed in: “Who’s going to take care of the baby? Tell me. Are you going to pay to take care of the baby? Are you going to make sure the baby has really good care? You’re not. You’re going to desert that baby.”

No one standing there on Saturday morning, not even the radical girl with pink-and-purple hair, seemed to be saying the baby is not a real human person.

Pro-life organizers of the Napa rally handed protesters a flyer that, among other things, called for the Napa Valley Vintners association to stop donating more than $100,000 a year to Planned Parenthood.

In a letter reprinted in the flyer, addressed to winemaker Robert Mondavi, longtime Napa Valley pro-life leader Maxson observed that, after the first video was released: “Coca-Cola, Xerox and Ford were first among many international corporations demanding that Planned Parenthood remove their names from the website as corporate donors. In fact, the entire list is suddenly gone from the Planned Parenthood website.”

Calling on Mondavi and other wealthy local winemakers to sever all ties with the abortion giant, Maxson wrote: “It’s time to recognize Planned Parenthood for what it is and end the poisonous association of your family name and Napa Valley Vintners with such sordid betrayal of women in crisis.”


‘Saving More Babies’

“The most important fallout” of the National Day of Protest, Scheidler said, is that this event boosted the number of people on the ground outside Planned Parenthood centers all over the country.

“This protest brought out many people who’ve never been to a protest before and who are now going to be participating next month in the 40 Days for Life protest,” he said. “We don’t want to just hold these protests from time to time. We want to be out there praying all the time and offering women help and assistance.”

While stating that only God knows what will happen as a result of all of this, Scheidler predicted, “We’re going to have more eyes and ears at the abortion centers, documenting things like underage girls being brought in; ambulances showing up and taking women off from botched abortions to the local hospital; other kinds of illegal activity going on.”

“We’re going to be making business much more difficult for Planned Parenthood in the future,” he added, “and we’re going to be saving more babies.”

Sue Ellen Browder is author of the forthcoming book

Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius).

She writes from Ukiah, California.