September 2, 2005

Pro-life group protests Planned Parenthood’s use of Governor’s Residence

By Mary Ann Wyand

State Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield, Ind.) questioned the use of the Governor’s Residence in Indianapolis for a Planned Parenthood of Indiana fundraiser on Aug. 11 while more than 75 pro-life supporters prepared to begin a prayer vigil on the sidewalk during the party.

Drozda conducted a 5 p.m. press conference in front of the Governor’s Residence to point out that Planned Parenthood of Indiana is being investigated by the Medicaid Fraud Unit of the Attorney General’s office and should not have been allowed to use “the people’s house” for a reception.

Nationally, Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest abortion provider.

Macey Staninger, correspondence director for Daniels, said in an e-mail response to The Criterion that “the governor has said the residence belongs to ‘all the people,’ and it is his administration’s policy to make it available on a neutral basis to organizations that pay to rent it. Although he has many disagreements with this particular organization’s ­policies, he does not believe such differences are a reason to deny access to public property.”

“Any organization would be free and open to reserve the governor’s mansion for a reception,” Drozda said, but “some of the issues that were brought to my attention from my constituents is that here you have what some would call a fringe organization, Planned Parenthood, which presently is under criminal investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Unit of the Attorney General’s office.

“With that being said, there are Hoosiers in my district, and I think in other parts of the state, who are very concerned,” Drozda said, “[about] how [Gov. Mitch Daniels] can let an organization that is under criminal investigation at the present time have use of the governor’s mansion.”

Drozda noted that in June the Attorney General’s office continued an investigation of Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s records launched in May 2004.

“The criminal investigation focused on the issue that you have … girls under the age of 14 who have received abortions [at Planned Parenthood clinics],” he said. “At the same time, under Indiana law, if that were the case, if they were sexually active—obviously they were in this case—then there was a criminal activity that did take place” to be reported.

“When you match the number of abortions with the ages in the state of Indiana and the pregnancy reports that are sent out by the Indiana Department of Health,” Drozda said, “in 2002 there were 65 women under the age of 15 who received abortions in the state of Indiana.”

He said “Indiana is not alone in looking at possible criminal activity that is being conducted by Planned Parenthood. I know Kansas is conducting criminal investigations as well. … If we take a step back and get a better understanding of what’s taking place, we have the people’s house—this is the governor’s house—and so what we need to do is say ‘Do we need to set certain criterion when we are looking at the ability to rent the governor’s mansion?”

Drozda said he and some of his colleagues in the state legislatue may consider sitting down with the Governor’s Commission to discuss appropriate use of the facility.

“We have an investigation that is under criminal investigation at the present time,” he said, “and … I think there are concerns about other organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan or other fringe organizations that really don’t reflect Hoosier values or maybe have a history of criminal activity [using the facility]. I think when push comes to shove there may need to be a case-by-case basis review of each and every request.”

Eileen Hartman, director of the Gabriel Project of Indiana, introduced Drozda and briefly discussed the pro-life ministry, which “offers women who are in difficult pregnancies and their families an alternative—the alternative of love. We have a toll-free number if you need help or if you would like to be a volunteer for the Gabriel Project. We’d love to have you join us.”

(The Gabriel Project’s statewide toll-free phone number is 877-734-2444.)


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