The recent kerfuffle over the decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to withdraw the funding it had provided to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings reminded me of something I had read in Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell's American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. In Chapter 7, the authors focus on Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas.
Our Savior Lutheran plays host to Houston Lutherans for Life. The authors describe one Sunday afternoon meeting attended by "about twenty-five people, mostly retirees." I got a mild chuckle out of one of the passages.
Finally, an older man shares that recently he "went down to Planned Parenthood" where he was shocked to find that pro-choice people "volunteer their Saturday mornings to make sure that women go in and kill their babies. He suggests the chapter "pray for our enemies." "We could all consider Planned Parenthood our enemy...doing the Devil's work," he adds gravely.
I couldn't help but think of that scene from Casablanca where Captain Renault declares that he is shocked, shocked, that there is gambling going on. Of course, it never occurs to this man that women might want to be able to enter a medical clinic without being badgered and harrassed by a bunch of religious busy bodies and that there are sympathetic minded people who feel the same way.
At the end of the meeting, a guest speaker from Houston Coalition for Life tells the attendees that the previous day at a gathering outside a Planned Parenthood center a pregnant girl decided at the last minute not to go in and have an abortion. He quotes her as saying to the demonstrators "Can I stand with you? I decided not to kill my baby today."
I have to say, reading that really set off my bullshit detector. It sounds to me like a noble lie that these people tell themselves to keep their morale up and make them believe they are making a difference. While he likely pulled the story out of his ass, it wouldn't surprise me if incidents like these are sometimes staged, with a pregnant young woman playing the part of a would be abortion seeker making a show of walking towards the entrance of an abortion facility and then suddenly changing her mind and joining the demonstrators as a new member of their flock.
After all, as the man quoted above from the book said, Planned Parenthood is the "enemy." These people are at war with Planned Parenthood, from (mostly) Republican politicians down to the street corner anti-abortion demonstrators, and when you're in a war, you fight with any means at your disposal. That includes lying, imposing bogus regulations and hijacking charitable organizations like the Komen Foundation. And these people will not cease their attacks until they learn that there is a price to be paid.
This issue matters to me on a personal level because some years ago, I turned to Planned Parenthood during a difficult time in my life that had nothing to do with abortion. They were there for me when I needed them and so I will be there for them. In the wake of the Komen episode, I called Planned Parenthood today to double my monthly regular contribution to them. And I owe it all to you, Karen Handel. If you would like to donate to Planned Parenthood as well, here is the link to their online donation page.