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.”
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.
‘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
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’
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.
“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.”