- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2016

Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary was a day of grieving for many in the pro-life movement, a harrowing reminder of the millions of nameless and faceless people who might be here today if not for the abortion giant’s inception a century ago.

But as abortion opponents brace for the outcome of a presidential race that could see one of Planned Parenthood’s greatest champions established in the White House, Sunday’s centennial also provided a sobering sense of perspective about the long fight still to come.

Prayer vigils were held outside of more than 100 Planned Parenthood facilities over the weekend to mark the anniversary. The candlelit ceremonies spanned from the International Planned Parenthood Federation headquarters near London Bridge to the Planned Parenthood Aurora Health Center on an overcast day outside of Chicago.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, which spearheaded the weekend of prayer, compared the effort to end the practice of abortion to the abolitionist movement. Like slavery, he said it’s “hard to imagine a quick end to abortion.”

“To truly eradicate this evil from our society is going to take a massive transformation of our culture itself, not unlike the Great Awakening,” Mr. Scheidler said. “Slavery was tolerated for hundreds of years, and there were people from time to time speaking out against it. But it wasn’t until the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century that the emancipation movement really began to have some real political power and cultural power.”

To mark the centennial, Planned Parenthood launched a hashtag, “#100YearsStrong,” and a profile-picture filter for social media users to show their support for abortion rights. The abortion provider said it was founded on the idea that there should be “no limits” in the way of women fulfilling their dreams.

“And we’re just getting started,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Every day, people line up at our health centers. And every day, Planned Parenthood doctors, clinicians and staff open doors to provide expert, compassionate care — no matter what. We will not rest until access to health care and rights is a reality for all people. We will build on our proud legacy to launch our second century with as much passion, courage and conviction as our first.”

The nation’s two top Democrats joined the campaign Sunday via Twitter.

“For a century, Planned Parenthood has made it possible for women to determine their own lives. Here’s to another #100YearsStrong,” President Obama tweeted from his official @POTUS account.

The person Mr. Obama wants to follow him in the White House — Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — pushed Planned Parenthood even harder Sunday. Five of the seven tweets and retweets on her official @HillaryClinton account by 7:30 p.m. Sunday were in praise or defense of Planned Parenthood.

The milestone is perhaps especially distressing for former abortion-industry workers who now fight to bring the practice to an end.

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood health center director who now helps workers transition out of the abortion industry, said the anniversary is one of “sadness” and “frustration” to her.

“It’s frustrating to me that they have been allowed to operate for 100 years and that women continue to buy in to these lies that they’re selling,” Ms. Johnson said.

After witnessing a 13-week-old child struggling for its life during an abortion, Ms. Johnson resigned from her post in 2009 and launched And Then There Were None. Although the group has spurred an exodus of more than 300 abortion-industry workers in its brief history, Ms. Johnson said she’s looking forward to the day when her work will no longer be necessary.

“I’m diligently, every day trying to work myself out of a job,” she said. “This is not going to be a sprint. It’s going to be a long race, and we’re going to have to be willing and ready to accept some setbacks and still continue to push forward.”

Planned Parenthood’s centennial comes at a seismic moment in the debate over abortion in America. Pro-life and pro-choice forces enjoy unprecedented influence in their respective political parties, through which they seek to implement increasingly ambitious and antithetical agendas.

On the heels of an undercover video investigation alleging Planned Parenthood trafficks in the human remains from abortions for profit, the Republican Party included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood in its platform for the first time in history.

A GOP-controlled Congress had put those words into action several months prior, but Mr. Obama vetoed a bill stripping $450 million in annual federal funding from the abortion giant.

While the Democratic Party once touted its commitment to keeping abortion “safe, legal and rare,” the final term in the triumvirate has become a faux pas among pro-choice advocates, arguing that if there is nothing wrong with abortion, there is no reason it should be “rare.”

The rhetorical shift marched in lockstep with a change in policy. For the first time in its history, the Democratic Party platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars public dollars from being used to finance abortions.

The increasing polarization over abortion is captured by Planned Parenthood’s own transformation on the issue.

Planned Parenthood used to be opposed to abortion,” Mr. Scheidler said. “As late as the ‘60s, Planned Parenthood was distributing fliers that said abortion is killing a baby before it’s born — they used the term ‘baby’ and said it’s harmful to women. This is in the 1960s; we’re not talking about the 1860s or something.”

Mr. Scheidler said undoing the cultural damage done by Planned Parenthood “may take generations.”

“But those generations are right here today and are going to carry this on in the future,” he said. “There’s no way we’re going to abandon these children. There’s no way that we’re ever going to abandon these children to abortion.”


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