COLUMBIA, Mo. – At midday during an excessive heat warning, nearly one hundred people on both sides of the abortion debate stood outside the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Columbia.
While a smattering of Planned Parenthood supporters attended the event, they largely served as a counter-protest to the anti-abortion “#WomenBetrayed” rally organized by the Students for Life of America that occurred at noon today at locations across the country.
Chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Planned Parenthood has got to go,” and “We are the pro-life generation” were sounded by the pro-life attendees, while Planned Parenthood officials used their car alarms in an attempt to drown out the voices of the speakers.
“I want to welcome you all to the Women Betrayed rally of Columbia,” Kathy Forck, a longtime anti-abortion advocate, said to the crowd. “We are so proud you all came out here today to demand that our representatives in Washington D.C .and Jefferson City hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their actions… shocking new footage proves that they are selling the body parts of these precious children for their own profit.”
Prominent Republican politicians and pro-life advocates, including gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway and state Rep. Diane Franklin, the chair of the House Children and Families Committee, spoke to those in attendance about their efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood after allegations surfaced weeks ago that the nonprofit women’s health group was selling the organs of aborted fetuses.
Hanaway spoke about her time as a prosecutor, putting away hardened criminals and said even she was taken aback by Planned Parenthood official Dr. Deborah Nucatola’s remarks and behavior in the video tapes.
“In none of those experiences did I ever see the callous disregard for human life that shows up on these videos,” Hanaway said during her speech. “I want you to imagine just for a moment if the procedures described were being performed on puppies, America would be up in arms. It’s time they were up in arms on behalf of the unborn.”
Hanaway continued her calls for a special session of the General Assembly to create tougher rules against the selling of fetal tissue in the state of Missouri. Currently, Missouri classifies the crime as a misdemeanor, while it is a felony at the federal level. She also commended Attorney General Chris Koster for starting an investigation into Planned Parenthood and denied using the video’s allegations to score political points with Missouri conservatives, instead saying that her outrage was genuine and focused.
“I think people of all stripes, I don’t think it’s even just pro-life people, want to get to the bottom of this,” Hanaway said. “The videos speak for themselves. You see them negotiating for the price of baby hearts, lungs, livers. You see them describing the fact that they manipulate the abortion procedure. I’m disgusted, sickened and angered by what I’ve seen in those videos.”
Rep. Franklin also spoke to the horror of the videos released earlier this month by the Center for Medical Progress. She told the crowd that her committee, along with the Ways and Means Committee, would investigate Planned Parenthood.
“It takes a lot of courage to come out and show how you feel about something that can be an atrocity,” Franklin said. ”Our goal is to ensure these atrocities don’t take place in our state. It is to ensure that our laws are structured properly to prevent and discourage these kinds of actions.”
Other women spoke against the practice of abortion, including their own experiences with abortion and Planned Parenthood, saying that the organization did not offer any care or comfort for women.
However, not everyone was impressed by the outpouring of opposition against the women’s health organization. Phil Wood, a professor at the University of Missouri discussed his and his wife’s own experience aborting twins with a rare disorder that would have prevented them from having other children if carried to term.
Their abortion was carried out by George Tiller, a doctor murdered in 2009 by a pro-life advocate, and Wood later committed himself to helping women through the abortion process by becoming a clinic escort at the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Columbia.
“The presentations that I’ve heard here have been singularly unencumbered by the thought process,” he said. “They don’t even think that people like my family existed. If I don’t exist, by definition then, life becomes very easy for them.”