The cheery radio spots for Planned Parenthood’s sparkling new facility on South Claiborne Avenue have begun airing, and they are positively glowing.
The commercials are all about women’s health care, especially for the poor and vulnerable, and mention how Planned Parenthood has the ability to provide important screenings for cancer and other women’s health issues.
Left unsaid, of course, is Planned Parenthood’s next move, which is to become the Gulf Coast’s regional giant for thousands upon thousands of abortions every year.
The facility that opened officially at the end of May currently does not have a license from the state’s Department of Health to perform abortions, but Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, left no doubt at a ribbon-cutting about the facility’s purpose.
“We definitely built this place so we can perform abortions,” Richards said.
That wasn’t a state secret, of course, but it was the first time anyone associated with Planned Parenthood had gone on record to clear up any misunderstanding.
Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said Planned Parenthood’s business plan, as outlined in its own documents, is to perform 2,844 abortions annually on site, which is in addition to the 10,000 abortions currently being performed at five clinics around the state.
Gov. Edwards has signed a bill that prohibits taxpayer funds from subsidizing any business that performs abortions, but Planned Parenthood certainly will challenge that law in court.
The most curious thing, Clapper says, is that Planned Parenthood has yet to formally apply for its abortion license. Clapper is puzzled, because the state can do almost nothing to stop the licensing process if the Planned Parenthood clinic meets state and federal guidelines as a place providing medical services.
“We assume that they would try to buy out the abortion facility around the corner (on Gen. Pershing Street), which has a license,” Clapper said. “Maybe, for PR reasons, they want to be open for awhile before doing abortions. Or it could be they don’t have a physician licensed in the state willing to do abortions. It’s an interesting dynamic because we really can’t call them an abortion facility right now.”
One of the ways in which the pro-life community is rallying to offer women alternatives to abortion is through a women’s health clinic under construction just to the left of the Planned Parenthood site.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond blessed the ground where the Woman’s New Life Center will build a $1.8 million facility, scheduled to open in less than a year. The group has raised $1.5 million so far through a capital campaign and needs about $300,000 more, said Angie Thomas, CEO of the Woman’s New Life Center.
“This will serve as an alternative to Planned Parenthood, whether it’s for women’s health or for options with an unplanned pregnancy,” Thomas said. “We want women to know that they have other options that are life-affirming and better for them as women.”
And so, the battle to win hearts and minds continues. Debbie Shinskie, Respect Life coordinator for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said area churches are sending representatives to a “launch party” Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. at Blessed Trinity Church (the former St. Matthias) for the annual 40 Days for Life campaign that will run Sept. 28-Nov. 6.
The Respect Life Office also is helping to organize a “life chain” on Saturday, Oct. 1, that will include pro-lifers circling the Planned Parenthood facility on the sidewalk, praying for women.
“The idea of the life chain is the visibility of the message and to get a lot more people motivated,” Shinskie said. “They’ll be carrying signs that say, ‘Abortion Hurts’ and ‘Adoption: A Loving Option.’ There will also be signs in Spanish.”
Shinskie says there are three physicians in the state qualified to reverse RU-486 chemical abortions, one of the abortion methods used in the early stages of pregnancy.
“When a surgical abortion is performed, when it’s over, it’s over,” Shinskie said. “But with a chemical one, it’s not.”