Of­fi­cial spars with abor­tion ad­vo­cates

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Eric Devlin ede­vlin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Eric_Devlin on Twit­ter

Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sioner Joe Gale on Thurs­day sparred with ad­vo­cates of Planned Par­ent­hood who took ex­cep­tion to com­ments he made at a rally in Berks County.

In a video posted on his Face­book page by the Berks County Repub­li­can Women, Gale is seen sur­rounded by fel­low demon­stra­tors out­side of the Read­ing School District ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices say­ing Planned Par­ent­hood should not re­ceive tax­payer fund­ing, nor should chil­dren be taught that abor­tion can be used as a form of birth con­trol.

“We should be teach­ing our youth the im­por­tance of fam­ily val­ues,” Gale said in the video. “And how the role of the par­ent is the­most im­por­tant role one in­di­vid­ual will ever have.”

TheRead­ingS­choolBoard was con­sid­er­ing whether to in­stall a pro­posed re­source cen­ter at Read­ing High School fo­cused on re­pro­duc­tive health. The cen­ter would be man­aged in part by Planned Par­ent­hood. The board even­tu­ally voted against the pro­posal in a 5-4 de­ci­sion.

“We have to stay strong and en­cour­age the lo­cal school board to vote no to Planned Par­ent­hood at this high school and make sure that our voices are heard,” Gale said in the video. “And we put enough pres­sure that we stand for fam­ily val­ues and we stand for the in­no­cent un­born and we stand that our youth learn fam­ily val­ues in their pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.”

Res­i­dents in­Mont­gomery County Thurs­day ob­jected to Gale’s com­ments dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ersmeet­ing, say­ing his re­marks were ir­re­spon­si­ble.

Katie Muth, a Roy­ers­ford res­i­dent, called on Gale to re­frain from post­ing what she called lies and smears of Planned Par­ent­hood “be­ing an abor­tion baby mill.”

“As some­one who’s a leader in the com­mu­nity or an elected of­fi­cial it is re­ally ir­re­spon­si­ble A: to spread lies and it’s un­ac­cept­able to at­tack­women’s free­do­mand ac­cess to health­care,” she said. “I’m not sure if maybe you need to get your facts straight but it’s im­per­a­tive that you be re­spon­si­ble for telling the truth.”

She sug­gested Gale put forth pro­pos­als that help eco­nomic and so­cioe­co­nomic jus­tice for­women “in­stead of out­right cel­e­brat­ing their lack of ac­cess to health care.”

“I was raised by a sin­gle dad,” she said. “And I used Planned Par­ent­hood.”

In re­sponse, Gale called Planned Par­ent­hood “Amer­ica’s largest abor­tion mill.”

“Abor­tion is a le­gal­ized killing of in­no­cent un­born babies,” he said, as mem­bers of the pub­lic jeered him. “And it’s wrong.”

Gale said he will al­ways be an out­spo­ken voice against abor­tion and the or­ga­ni­za­tions that ad­vo­cate or per­form the prac­tice. “I will not qui­etly standby while the life of so­ci­ety’s most in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble is de­stroyed,” he said.

Gale was also crit­i­cized by res­i­dent Eric Eck­stein of Lower Merion who said he ex­pected pub­lic of­fi­cials from Mont­gomery County “to lead from this county. Not to start a cam­paign process spend­ing time out­side this county work­ing on po­lit­i­cal things.”

“If you’re go­ing to spend your time there, do it on your own time,” he said. “Do it when the cam­paign’s com­ing. We have im­por­tant is­sues that ob­vi­ous­lywe’re ad­dress­inghere­andwe­need to fo­cus on them in Mont­gomery County.”

In re­sponse, Gale said no one com­plained when for­mer county com­mis­sioner Josh Shapiro cam­paigned across the state last year in his bid for at­tor­ney gen­eral.

“That’s be­cause he’s a Demo­crat and com­plain­ing about him didn’t fur­ther your rad­i­cal, lib­eral agenda,” Gale said, adding he works full time as a com­mis­sioner to make sure the county is a great place to live, work, wor­ship and raise a fam­ily. “If ac­com­plish­ing that goal re­quiresme to go be­yond the county lines, I will do so.”

In re­sponse, com­mis­sion­ers’ Chair­woman Val Arkoosh, a Demo­crat, said she thought it was great that res­i­dents spoke their mind about is­sues that are very per­sonal and im­por­tant to many res­i­dents. Com­mis­sioner Ken Lawrence, an­other Demo­crat, said Gale has the right to share his views and peo­ple have the right to dis­agree with them.

Gale ended his com­ments by con­demn­ing an­other me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion for­what he called “fake news.” He said hewas asked by a re­porter to com­ment on the re­cent in­ci­dents in Char­lottesville, Va. He pro­vided his thoughts in writ­ing, but said he later dis­cov­ered mul­ti­ple mis­quotes, and other changes when the ar­ti­cle was pub­lished.

“They in­ten­tion­ally changed what I sub­mit­ted in writ­ing and then put it in quotes as be­ing some­thing I said,” he said. “That is fake news. That is a lie. That is a fab­ri­ca­tion and that is un­just to me and the read­ers.”

He then crit­i­cized the ed­i­to­rial staff and called the news­pa­per “a lib­eral rag.”

The re­porter in ques­tion de­clined to com­ment for this story.

Gale fi­nally called for com­mis­sion­ers press con­fer­ences to be held in pub­lic rather than in a back room.

“The Demo­crat administration cow­ardly uses the bi­ased me­dia to cover up their fail­ures in run­ning this county,” he said.

ERIC DEVLIN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sioner Joe Gale took flack from­mem­bers of the pub­lic at Thurs­day’s com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing fol­low­ing his crit­i­cism of Planned Par­ent­hood at a re­cent rally in Berks County.

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