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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette A crowd gathers on the Allen County Courthouse Green on Tuesday afternoon to pray during the Women Betrayed rally, which supports the defunding and investigation of Planned Parenthood.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Amanda Banks spoke at Tuesday afternoon's Women Betrayed rally to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood on the green of the Allen County Courthouse.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette April Wright, of Fort Wayne, with her adopted daughter Autumn Wright, 3, at Tuesday afternoon's Women Betrayed Rally. Wright, who had an abortion at 16, is grateful for the chance to adopt her daughter at 3 days old.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Nina Bogle, of Fort Wayne, spoke as a woman who has had an abortion at Tuesday afternoon's Women Betrayed Rally on the green of the Allen County Courthouse.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Tuesday afternoon people gathered for the Women Betrayed Rally to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood on the green of the Allen County Courthouse.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 12:42 am

Hundreds join local rally

Brian Francisco | Washington editor

Hundreds of people rallied Tuesday at the Allen County Courthouse Green, where speakers called for Congress to yank public funding from Planned Parenthood and investigate the nonprofit health care organization.

The demonstration was among dozens of "Women Betrayed" rallies organized across the nation to protest videotaped remarks of Planned Parenthood officials talking about providing aborted fetal organs to medical researchers.

Dr. Christina Francis, a local ob-gyn, accused Planned Parenthood of breaking federal laws restricting abortions and of performing abortions "in order to profit from the sale of human organs. That’s right, I said human – the unborn children who are having their organs parceled out are human beings, and this is undisputed."

Francis said women who obtain abortions through Planned Parenthood are told their unborn babies are "nothing more than tissue that can be discarded."

Amanda Banks, vice president of Allen County Right to Life and the wife of state Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, noted that Indiana’s government no longer funds Planned Parenthood, and she called for other states and the federal government to stop giving the group $500 million a year in public money.

"We owe it to the babies who have lost their lives and the women who have been used to goose their profits," she said.

Although federal funds cannot generally be used for abortions, GOP senators unveiled a bill Tuesday evening cutting federal aid to Planned Parenthood and directing that money instead to "other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services." Aides said an initial vote was likely early next week.

At Tuesday’s rally, state Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, said Planned Parenthood is "ruthless, dispassionate, deceitful and distrustful and now even mercenary. They are people who only care about the bottom line."

She also said, "Providing an abortion, cutting up a baby in order to preserve its organs for research, is not giving women access to health care."

Brown and Jim Banks are candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination in Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

Nina Bogle of Fort Wayne said she underwent an abortion at a clinic she’d found through Planned Parenthood. She said that before the procedure, she was shown a "propaganda" film informing her that "there was no way in my socioeconomic class that I could possibly raise this child."

"Stand up for the lives of the babies," she instructed the audience.

Many people attending the rally wore "I Vote Pro-Life" stickers on their clothing. Some women held "I Regret My Abortion" posters. One woman’s T-shirt proclaimed: "I Survived Death Roe; 55 Million Did Not" over the image of a crawling baby, a reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortions.

Cathie Humbarger, executive director of Allen County Right to Life, read letters of support for the rally from Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. She named other backers including Gov. Mike Pence, state Attorney General Greg Zoeller and more than a dozen Republican state legislators from northeast Indiana.

Tammy Lieber, communications director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a emailed statement that the "Women Betrayed" rallies "are designed to shame the patients who seek basic health care services from Planned Parenthood and to intimidate the health care professionals who work here."

Lieber said preventive care, including cancer screenings, contraceptives and tests for sexually transmitted diseases, account for 93 percent of PPINK’s services.

"We also provide women seeking safe and legal abortion high-quality and compassionate care," she said. "As we have said previously, PPINK does not participate in any tissue donation program. And of course, we hold compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations as an imperative."

According to its website, PPINK offers abortion referrals but not abortion services at its Fort Wayne Health Center. The website states that PPINK offers abortion services at health centers in Bloomington, Indianapolis, Lafayette and Merrillville.

bfrancisco@jg.net