Planned Par­ent­hood cel­e­brates cen­ten­nial

Foes con­tinue to bris­tle but group has strong Dem sup­port

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION + WORLD - By David Crary

NEW YORK >> Planned Par­ent­hood’s 100th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions this week­end come with a sense of re­lief for the group that traces its roots to a time when women could not vote and con­tra­cep­tion was il­le­gal. The or­ga­ni­za­tion, whose ser­vices in­clude birth con­trol, sex ed­u­ca­tion and abor­tions, has sur­vived largely in­tact in the face of vi­o­lence, vil­i­fi­ca­tion and fierce ef­forts in Congress and many states to cut its fund­ing.

There’s been some ad­verse im­pact: In Texas and Wis­con­sin, for ex­am­ple, some Planned Par­ent­hood fa­cil­i­ties closed af­ter the states cut off fund­ing streams. But most of the Repub­li­can­led de­fund­ing ef­forts have been thwarted, and mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­lated to the dis­po­si­tion of fe­tal tis­sue have thus far failed to prove wrong­do­ing on Planned Par­ent­hood’s part.

Mean­while, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­ceived strong back­ing from the Demo­cratic Party, in­clud­ing pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, and says sup­port from the pub­lic is ro­bust.

“The at­tacks have only strength­ened our re­solve,” said Planned Par­ent­hood pres­i­dent Ce­cile Richards. “I do be­lieve we are in a stronger place today than a year ago, or five years ago.”

Planned Par­ent­hood’s foes, who de­nounce its role as the nation’s lead­ing abor­tion provider, show no signs of re­lent­ing. Eleven anti-abor­tion groups is­sued a joint state­ment de­pict­ing the 100th an­niver­sary as “a tragic mile­stone for our nation and a re­minder of the mil­lions of un­born chil­dren who will never have a birth­day.”

How­ever, op­po­nents also ex­press some frus­tra­tion at Planned Par­ent­hood’s lob­by­ing and fundrais­ing skills.

“They put them­selves in role of mar­tyr while at the same time mak­ing money hand-over-fist,” said Kristi Ham­rick of Amer­i­cans United for Life.

Planned Par­ent­hood dates its be­gin­nings to Oct. 16, 1916, when Mar­garet Sanger, her sis­ter and a friend opened Amer­ica’s first birth con­trol clinic in Brook­lyn. It was a chal­lenge to mores and laws of the time, four years be­fore the 19th Amend­ment gave women the right to vote.

The clinic was raided, and Sanger was con­victed of dis­sem­i­nat­ing birth con­trol in­for­ma­tion. Un­daunted, she founded two or­ga­ni­za­tions that later merged to form the Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica.

Sanger’s per­sonal legacy is com­pli­cated. She op­posed abor­tion — and yet the or­ga­ni­za­tion she founded now pro­vides about one-third of Amer­ica’s es­ti­mated 1 mil­lion an­nual abor­tions.

Over the decades, Planned Par­ent­hood played piv­otal roles in eas­ing laws against con­tra­cep­tion, pop­u­lar­iz­ing the birth con­trol pill and set­ting the stage for the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade rul­ing that es­tab­lished a woman’s right to have an abor­tion.

Its clin­ics have been re­peated tar­gets of bomb­ings, ar­son and protests. Last Novem­ber, a gun­man killed three peo­ple and in­jured nine at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Colorado. The man charged with the at­tack said he acted be­cause of his op­po­si­tion to abor­tion.

Threats against the or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ca­lated in mid-2015 af­ter an anti-abor­tion group called the Cen­ter for Medical Progress be­gan re­leas­ing se­cretly recorded videos al­leg­ing that Planned Par­ent­hood sold fe­tal tis­sue to re­searchers for a profit in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral law.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions by sev­eral states and con­gres­sional pan­els pro­duced no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An anti-abor­tion pro­tester stands on a lad­der over­look­ing a Planned Par­ent­hood of­fice wav­ing anti-abor­tion lit­er­a­ture and a rosary in the di­rec­tion of a per­son en­ter­ing the re­pro­duc­tive health clinic in Al­bu­querque, N.M., in 2013.

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