Planned Parenthood debate takes center stage downtown

MANCHESTER – Supporters and opponents of Planned Parenthood converged on downtown Thursday, as Congress and state lawmakers consider measures to strip funding for the organization.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England held a rally at Victory Park — a gathering conspicuous because of the bright pink signs and a bright pink big bus printed with: “I Stand With Planned Parenthood.”

A few blocks away, abortion opponents held a rally outside the office of Republican Congressman Frank Guinta to praise him for backing a federal budget proposal that would end Title X funding for family planning services and bar Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion services from receiving any federal funding.

Federal law already blocks public money from covering abortion services directly.

Organized by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, the rally featured its own bus, emblazoned with signs that read, “Expose Planned Parenthood” and “Defund Planned Parenthood.”

Lila Rose, president of Live Action, speaks to pro-life supporters with Marilyn Musgrave, center, former Colorado Representative and project director of the Susan B. Anthony List, during a “Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood” bus tour, which stopped at NH Congressman Frank Guinta’s district office in Manchester on Thursday (THOMAS ROY) 

Planned Parenthood launched its bus tour this week to follow the SBA List’s tour to several towns and cities in the Midwest and Northeast to build support among key congressmen for ending the Title X funding — and, in the case of the Manchester stop, to thank Guinta for his support. (He was not present at the rally.)

The rallies came a day after a State House committee voted to shelve a parallel bill that would have barred the state from entering contracts with Planned Parenthood and any organization that provides abortions.

At the pro-life rally, speakers were critical of the House vote, but praised Guinta. “When we asked Congressman Guinta for his support last month as a sponsor, he didn’t hesitate,” said Elaine Driscoll, the state director of Concerned Women for America of New Hampshire, told cheering supporters. “We are a distinctively different from other nations because of our stance on life. We believe in preserving life.”

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The crowd numbered around 50 people, and many held signs, including one that said: “Planned Parenthood: The Only Holocaust With An Ad Campaign.”

Lila Rose, the president of the group Live Action and one of the organizers of the bus tour, faulted Planned Parenthood not only for abortion, but also for facilitating human trafficking, pointing to a hidden camera investigation she led that showed Planned Parenthood employees providing advice to a pimp.

“It’s time to stop funding this abuse,” she said to applause.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood rallied in Manchester on Thursday to protest the possible elimination of government funding. (BOB LAPREE)

At the Planned Parenthood rally, speakers stressed that abortion is a small component of a range of services that deal mostly with preventative care, such as breast and cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease testing and contraceptives.

“Without the financial support that comes from federal funding, Planned Parenthood could not care for many of the women that come to them for necessary, often life-saving care,” said state Senator Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, one of several to address a crowd of several dozen at Victory Park.

There are six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire.

After the rally, Steve Trombley, the president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, stressed the role the organization played in a fragile economy.

“We’re in a difficult economic environment, and the services we provide are making a real difference in the lives of women in this state,” Trombley said.


(from the Union Leader, 03/11/2011)

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