Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Anne DiBernardo - Florida Catholic
Photography: LISA BROWNE BANIC | FC
PEMBROKE PINES | The recent release of undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s business of aborting and selling baby parts unleashed a nationwide protest Aug. 22 that brought close to 350 men, women and children to the Pembroke Pines Planned Parenthood facility Aug. 22.
The prayerful protesters lined the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood at 263 University Drive in Pembroke Pines for the peaceful demonstration which united persons of nearly every religious denomination. The event was organized by Broward Right to Life with participation from the Archdiocese of Miami Respect Life Office.
“The videos are reigniting the pro-life movement. This is the first time the country has had to confront this â€” it’s in their face,” said Eugene Cunningham, president of St. Malachy’s pro-life ministry, Mary for Life.
Some prayed silently while others prayed the rosary independently or in groups, forming a polyphony that could be heard over the soundscape of motorists honking horns in a show of support as they passed along the busy thoroughfare.
Drivers slowed down to read the array signs, many of which were homemade â€” until now, there was no need to manufacture commercial signs demanding that the U.S. government defund an organization that sells aborted baby parts.
One sign, held by Respect Life Director Joan Crown and Educational Coordinator Barbara Groeber, quoted the prophetic warning given by Pope John Paul II in 1996: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”
Another admonished: “It is against the law to sell aborted baby parts â€” hold Planned Parenthood accountable.”
“I’m here because I still believe our country is better than this,” said Peter Dyga, a parishioner at Little Flower Church in Hollywood. “We are better than what Planned Parenthood is doing and what our government is funding and we allow to happen. We just have to bring out the best in our country and not the worst.”
“People have been awakened by the horror of abortion and are moved that something is being done to show the other side, which is the true face of Planned Parenthood,” Groeber said. “We see this every time we pray in front of an abortion facility, cars are going slow and reading signs. You don’t see the angry people like the media would have you believe.”
As Crown and Groeber stood by their sign, they recognized the priest walking among the crowd, clutching an oversized wooden rosary and blessing participants with holy water, as Father Julio de Jesus. Father de Jesus was ordained this May and serves at Nativity Parish in Hollywood. He has pledged to do anything for the respect life ministry.
“I am a living testimony,” said Father de Jesus. “My mother was told by the doctor that if she gave birth to me she would die. I’m the last of fourteen. We live now in a culture of death and we need to be a witness, not only by saying it but also by doing something so that the people may understand. We need to not only protest but bring Christ to the people and pray that God will change their hearts.”
“It’s time to speak out and take a stand about the brutality and the evil that is going on behind those closed doors,” said Tweannah Aman, executive director of Broward Right to Life, during the press conference that took place during the demonstration.
“Planned Parenthood calls themselves a family planning organization, but with over 300,000 babies killed last year, that doesn’t sound like a good family planning organization. We know about the videos that have been released. They’re shocking, they’re hard to watch, it’s sad but we also need to be aware about what is going on. If we don’t know, then we won’t be able to stand against it,” Aman said.
“We want the media and the American people to know that we will not remain silent while just 100 yards away babies are being brutally killed and wounded â€” me being one of them,” added Aman, who still grieves over the abortion that left her sterile when she was 18.
She refutes the myth that abortion is no big deal. Over the years she has counseled women who have had abortions and knows the pain they have gone through.
“Some have never gotten over it,” Aman said, asking, “How many of those babies have been picked apart in petri dishes? How many of those babies have been delivered intact to be sent over for research? Do you think those women know what is happening to their children? Do you think they really know the cruelty and inhumanity of what is going on in that clinic?”
“We want to raise that awareness. We want to let people know that we are not going away,” she said.
“These babies, some of them, their hearts are still beating,” she added, referring to scenes from the seventh undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress. “How can they say that this is okay? How did we come to a place in our society where we can defend these heinous acts? There are people who call us extremists because we stand and hold signs, but they wouldn’t have any problem holding signs defending Cecil the lion.”
“We must demand an end to this atrocity and that not one more penny from our paychecks goes to fund the criminal trafficking of babies’ organs,” said Rosa Armesto, an attorney involved with the Alliance Defending Freedom, who also spoke during the press conference.
“Have you ever wondered how a group pushing death and destruction could call itself Planned Parenthood?” she asked. “Why is the U.S. government allowing a group as anti-human and anti-American as this to operate in our country? Why is a criminal business such as this getting any of your tax dollars?”
She said that Florida doesn’t need Planned Parenthood: The state has 636 clinics where women can get health care, compared to 23 Planned Parenthood facilities.
“Planned Parenthood has now been unmasked for what it really is â€” a criminal business masquerading as a health-care provider,” Armesto said. “Planned Parenthood exploits women, kills unborn babies, and profits from their pain, the pain of the women in a crisis pregnancy, the pain of a child in the womb, and is now trafficking the organs of the babies all for greed.”
She pointed out that Planned Parenthood receives nearly $1.5 million a day in taxpayer funds and reported more than $127 million in “excess revenue” last year.
“Isn’t it time to demand that our hard-earned dollars be directed from Planned Parenthood’s criminal business to the thousands of true health-care providers in America?” Armesto said.
“This is not the first time circumstances have presented themselves allowing us to see the horrific face of abortion,” said Groeber of Respect Life. “Our gut reaction is to turn away in revulsion and dismay. We must also, however, embrace the opportunity God is giving us to wake up and become actively involved in protecting the most vulnerable among us, our unborn children.
“Contact the Respect Life Office at 954-981-2922 and learn how to become part of the solution,” she suggested.