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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hundreds marched during Saturday's Right for Life Saturday in downton Fort Wayne. The March for Life is a peaceful protest of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the country.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hundreds marched during Saturday's Right for Life Saturday in downton Fort Wayne. The March for Life is a peaceful protest of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the country.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hundreds marched during Saturday's Right for Life Saturday in downton Fort Wayne. The March for Life is a peaceful protest of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the country.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hundreds marched during Saturday's Right for Life Saturday in downton Fort Wayne. The March for Life is a peaceful protest of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the country.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hundreds of city residents marched during Saturday’s Right to Life rally in Fort Wayne. The annual March for Life is a peaceful protest of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the country. Community leaders spoke about abortions’ effects on women’s health.

Sunday, January 17, 2016 4:35 am

Abortion opponents raise voices at rally

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

The message was clear – end abortion now.

Saturday marked Allen County Right to Life’s annual March for Life, held each year around the date of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

A large crowd of pro-life supporters gathered at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center to hear from several speakers, including local activists, doctors and politicians. After the rally, the crowd marched to the E. Ross Adair Federal Building on South Harrison Street.

There were political, medical and spiritual overtones during Saturday’s rally as Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., Dr. Christina Francis, the event’s keynote speaker, and various members of Fort Wayne’s clergy criticized Planned Parenthood and called for an end to legal abortion.

Francis, an OB-GYN who practices in Fort Wayne, said attacks against abortion-rights opponents have increased in recent years. In response, Francis said the anti-abortion community must "rephrase the argument."

"First, at least half of the pre-born children being killed by abortion are likely female. What about the war being waged on them? Do they not count to those that are defending the rights of women?" Francis said. "Second, the actual war on women is abortion, which not only has significant potential immediate complications but also has an extremely negative impact on a woman’s long-term health."

Francis said she believes abortion has "no health benefit whatsoever" for a woman or a fetus. She also linked abortion to breast cancer, stating that women who have abortions are more likely to develop cancer over the course of their lifetime.

"Did you know that having one abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by about 30 percent?" Francis asked the crowd. "A woman who has three or more abortions increases her breast cancer (risk) by 165 percent."

On its website, the American Cancer Society states that research studies have not found a cause-and-effect link between abortion and breast cancer.

Both Stutzman and Francis spoke about a set of videos secretly recorded and edited by the Center for Medical Progress that purported to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

Stutzman praised the Center for Medical Progress for its work creating the videos, describing Planned Parenthood as an "evil organization."

"As we saw these videos come out, you know, we all knew what was going on, and it actually exposed probably more than what we knew, but a lot of Americans did not realize this," he said.

"And so that’s why this is a wonderful, timely opportunity for us to continue to show Americans what the evil organization Planned Parenthood does by selling baby body parts."

The videos have been widely criticized by abortion-rights activists who claim the videos were deceptively edited. Planned Parenthood also filed a federal lawsuit last week against the Center for Medical Progress, claiming the anti-abortion organization violated the law when recording the videos.

Stutzman called for Congress to continue to try to defund Planned Parenthood and said the issue will underscore the 2016 presidential election.

On Friday, a day ahead of the annual march, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky released a statement supporting the activists’ right to free speech and assembly, but reasserted the organization’s abortion-rights stance.

"The right to free speech is a constitutional right that we support, just as we support a woman’s constitutional right to make decisions regarding her own body," said Patty Stauffer, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. "Women did not start having abortions with Roe v. Wade; they stopped dying from them. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is committed to being there for all who need us – no matter what."

dgong@jg.net