Demonstrators in Morristown call for defunding of Planned Parenthood

Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Video: Demonstrators call for defunding of Planned Parenthood

By Kevin Coughlin

About 100 anti-abortion protesters demonstrated outside the  Planned Parenthood office in Morristown on Saturday, joining nationwide rallies calling for defunding of the organization.

“God loves life. We love God,” said Lisa Hart of Morris County Right to Life.

Planned Parenthood receives $430 million in federal funds and performs more than 320,000 abortions annually, according to the demonstrators, who carried signs declaring “Abortion is Murder” and “If Only the Unborn Could March.”

Holly Hernandez of Morristown at Anti-abortion protest outside Planned Parenthood, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Holly Hernandez of Morristown at Anti-abortion protest outside Planned Parenthood, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Several police officers directed traffic and monitored the scene, which was orderly and peaceful. There did not appear to be any interference with patients at the facility.

Across the country about 200 rallies were scheduled, coordinated by the #ProtestPP Coalition.  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said the GOP majority in Congress intends to defund Planned Parenthood.

Some Planned Parenthood chapters had urged supporters against staging counter-demonstrations, to minimize chaos and anxiety for patients. Only two women came to oppose Saturday’s protest on Speedwell Avenue.

Christina Mazza, 31, of Hillsborough, held a sign proclaiming: “Girls Just Want to Have FUNding for Planned Parenthood.” She said the organization provides many services beyond abortions.

“I’ve been to Planned Parenthood. It was there for me in college when I needed it, and I wouldn’t want that to not be there for other people,” Mazza said.

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‘WE ALWAYS CHOOSE LIFE’

Demonstrators charged that Planned Parenthood is corrupt and exaggerates its women’s healthcare services, which they claimed can be provided by other health centers with funds redirected from Planned Parenthood.

“Any pregnant woman who calls, we’ll find help for them,” said Christopher Bell, president of Good Counsel Inc., a Hoboken-based nonprofit that he said serves 53 mothers in six homes in New Jersey, New York and Alabama.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin

Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Florencia Olave of Succasunna protests in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Anti-abortion protesters outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Moira Dziomba of St. Matthew the Apostle Church in Randolph with Janet and Ted Dore of Madison, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Christina Mazza of Hillsborough defends Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Holly Hernandez of Morristown at Anti-abortion protest outside Planned Parenthood, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Anti-abortion protest outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
About 100 demonstrators chanted prayers outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Patrick Gibbons, a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus of Long Valley, demonstrates at Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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p1430076 - Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Florencia Olave, a Columbian immigrant who worships at St. Margaret of Scotland Roman Catholic Church in Morristown, said there are not enough babies in the world. Women who abort babies will harbor deep regrets later in life, she said.

“There are other options. We always choose life,” said Janet Dore, a retired teacher from Madison.  

Holly Hernandez, a 27-year-old Morristown resident, added: “Jesus was born in a manger. Think Mary could afford him?  Who can afford children? Everyone’s a burden. That is a blessing.”

‘I’M GRATEFUL FOR A PLACE LIKE THIS’

Florencia Olave of Succasunna protests in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Florencia Olave of Succasunna protests in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Employees at Planned Parenthood in Morristown declined to comment, and a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Planned Parenthood supporters note that Medicaid funding for abortions has been prohibited since passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976.

Defunding only “keeps people who use public programs from getting preventive reproductive and sexual health services like birth control, STD tests, breast cancer screenings, and family planning education at Planned Parenthood health centers,” according to  Planned Parenthood Action.

Christina Mazza of Hillsborough defends Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Christina Mazza of Hillsborough defends Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Many of these patients couldn’t get these services anywhere else — and, like we said, many of them are people with low incomes, people of color, and people who live in rural areas.”

A client at Morristown’s Planned Parenthood office agreed. Dori, who brought along her 3-year-old daughter Jenna, is an office manager and her husband works in an auto body shop.

Their jobs don’t provide health insurance, and they cannot afford coverage under the Affordable Care Act, she said.

“I’m grateful for a place like this. It’s a lot cheaper than going to a regular doctor,” said Dori, 33, who declined to give her full name. 

A package of birth control pills that would cost $100 from a doctor is only $20 at Planned Parenthood, and annual physicals cost less, too, she said.

The demonstration outside stirred conflicting emotions for Dori, who was adopted.

While she prefers that option to abortion,  she said, “It’s ultimately your choice… if you’re in a situation where you can’t, you can’t.”

Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Demonstrators outside Planned Parenthood in Morristown, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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11 COMMENTS

  1. Martin and others, and particularly the protesters seem confused.

    Let’s say this clearly: Federal money does NOT fund abortions. Again. Federal money does NOT fund abortions.

    And Martin, speaking of judgement, it does take two to tango. And oddly enough you seem to be advocating for contraception. Guess where men and women can get low cost contraception… Planned Parenthood.

    Abortion is a personal choice. If you don’t believe in it, then that’s great. Many pro-choice people, myself and pretty much everyone I know, are personally pro-life (meaning that if they had the choice to make for themselves, they would likely choose to not abort unless there’s a medical reason or some other extenuating circumstance, like rape or incest).

    Some more facts:

    * Government funding is roughly $500M/year and mostly via medicaid paying PP as a healthcare provider – NOT a blanket grant to PP, but fees paid by medicaid for services provided on a per-service basis.
    * 3% of the services PP provides are abortions (300K vs. total of 10.6M services)
    * Federal funds do not pay for abortions, and cannot – that is currently NOT LEGAL
    * 34% of the services PP provides are contraception-related
    * More than 1 million pregnancy tests are provided by PP annually (and knowing you’re pregnant leads to better prenatal care, better prenatal care means less expensive delivery and lower mortality rate)
    * More than 2 million patients a year get contraception via PP
    * More than 1 million emergency (“morning after”) contraception kits provided (I’m sure some consider this abortion, but it is not)
    * More than 4,000 vasectomies by PP annually
    * More than 20,000 women receive prenatal care annually
    * More than 270,000 cervical cancer screenings provided by PP annually
    * More than 360,000 breast exams/screenings provided by PP annually
    * More than 60% of PP locations offer same-day appointments
    * More than 75% of PP locations offer night/weekend hours (working poor do not have as much flexibility in getting time off for medical care)
    * More than 26% of PP clients say PP is their only option for care

  2. I say Amen to those who support life! Pray for those who are lost don’t know Him, and that they may one day seek the Lord and find the Joy of what “Real Life” is like.

  3. Obamacare mandates that all citizens have health insurance. Therefore, the previously un-insured can now access these same services from their primary care physician. Therefore, tax funding of charitable medical organizations, whether they cater to male or female healthcare, should no longer be necessary.

  4. Then lets not pay for fertility treatments, care for preemies, viagra and any number of things related to our sexual habits and ability to reproduce. Why do we have to pay for the problems resulting from forcing women to have unwanted children? Why do we pay for the birth of any number of children when their parents can’t afford to support them? Childcare, medications, special ed, prisons and all kinds of things can be related to the choices made by both men and women.men and women. Why are people attempting to force their personal choices and religious beliefs on others. . Where do we draw the line in minding other people’s business?

  5. Why is it that Planned Parenthood is presumed to be for women only? What about Planned Fatherhood? Every man should be able to decide if and when he will become a father. What about people who are beyond their reproductive years? They need the other services Planned Parenthood provides.

  6. Outlawing abortion won’t end abortion. Remember your history. That said, it has ended womens’ lives.
    Defunding Planned Parenthood will just lead to lack of birth control for vulnerable communities.
    We won’t go back to coat hangers and back alley abortions.
    Right on, Nancy Duggan.

  7. Nancy sure it’s your body and your choice, but why should we pay for lack of good judgement for not using contraception by you or your partner? If you where raped well that’s a different story.

  8. Florencia Olave’s statement that “women who abort babies will harbor deep regrets later in life,” is simply not true for all women. The aborting of a *fetus* at age 21 hasn’t struck me as anything but the absolute right thing to do at the time and now, 42 years later.

    My body, my choice.

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