Lexington Demonstrators Hit The Streets For Planned Parenthood
On the same day Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was summoned to Capitol Hill to defend the organization, Lexington supporters are rallying outside the nonprofit’s Southland Drive location.
It’s about 11:45 on a wet, gray Tuesday morning. Catching the eye of drivers is a small sea of pink outside the city’s only Planned Parenthood office, where demonstrators are holding up signs asking supporters to honk in solidarity and admonishing lawmakers not to “take away our care.”
"I'd like to hear everyone hold the horn down quite frankly. This is a real important issue and I feel like we're going back to the 17th century here," says protester Sandra Williams, whose poster reads "I'm a woman and I vote!"
Williams is one of about 35 protesters lining the sidewalk as part of the event organized by members of the Kentucky National Organization for Women, MoveOn, and Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana. Federal funding for the organization has become a flashpoint in Washington budget negotiations, largely due to a series of videos released by anti-abortion activists with the conservative Center for Medical Progress – tapes that have prompted calls, like this one earlier this month from Republican Sen. Rand Paul, to strip away funding for the health centers:
"I think all America should be sickened by this," the GOP presidential hopeful told his colleagues on the Senate floor. "But it should also trouble us if we are a society that's not sickened by this. I think the time has come to have a full-throated debate over this."
When rally organizer Karen Conley looks at the footage, which appears to show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, she sees "doctored videotapes to make it appear as if it's an abortion mill when actually only three percent of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion related."
That statistic, like nearly all frequently cited in the debate, is disputed by opponents, but one number both sides converge on is 528 million - the annual federal subsidy for the organization according to the Congressional Budget Office. Critics contend the dollars would be better spent elsewhere, while supporters note the law already prevents any of the funds from being earmarked for abortion services.