August 7, 2015

Indiana cities join in national rally calling for investigation, defunding of Planned Parenthood

People hold signs for the #WomenBetrayed rally in Indianapolis on July 28 as Susan Swayze gives a speech. Swayze is vice president of Indiana Right to Life and national women’s pro-life caucus coordinator of Susan B. Anthony List. The rally was one of 60 held nationwide, including one in Bloomington, to call for an investigation and national defunding of the abortion provider in light of recent videos revealing the organization’s selling of body parts of aborted children. Nearly 200 people attended the Indianapolis rally. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

People hold signs for the #WomenBetrayed rally in Indianapolis on July 28 as Susan Swayze gives a speech. Swayze is vice president of Indiana Right to Life and national women’s pro-life caucus coordinator of Susan B. Anthony List. The rally was one of 60 held nationwide, including one in Bloomington, to call for an investigation and national defunding of the abortion provider in light of recent videos revealing the organization’s selling of body parts of aborted children. Nearly 200 people attended the Indianapolis rally. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer and John Shaughnessy

Oppressive heat could not suppress the voices of the nearly 200 people who came to the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood facility on July 28 to rally for the national investigation and defunding of the country’s largest abortion provider.

The rally was one of 60 held across the nation on that day, including one in Bloomington that also drew more than 200 people.

The rallies were the result of the #WomenBetrayed campaign led by Students for Life of America in response to videos recently released in which prominent doctors of the Planned Parenthood organization discussed selling body parts of aborted children.

The videos prompted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to order an investigation of the state’s Planned Parenthood facilities. On July 30, the Indiana State Department of Health issued a statement noting that its investigation concluded that the state’s Planned Parenthood facilities are in compliance with state law.

On Aug. 3, the U.S. Senate fell short of the necessary votes to advance a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood, but the issue is expected to be revisited by the Congress in the fall. Both U.S. senators, Republican Dan Coats and Democrat Joe Donnelly, supported the bill.

“[The rally] went very well,” said Marc Tuttle, president of Right to Life of Indianapolis, which organized the capital city rally. “The goal was to join in solidarity with 60 other cities and let there be a national outcry. We certainly raised our voices from Indy to join in that. We were able to get our voices heard.”

Those voices were heard as the participants shouted, “Now we know!” and “Defund Planned Parenthood!”

People from different walks of life also spoke at the rally in Indianapolis about their common protest against Planned Parenthood.

The speakers included Indiana state senators Mike Delph and Brent Waltz; vice president of Indiana Right to Life and national women’s pro-life caucus coordinator of Susan B. Anthony List, Susan Swayze; Evangelical Orthodox Bishop Joshua Beecham; and former Planned Parenthood worker Marianne Anderson, who worked for two and a half years at the facility where the Indianapolis rally was held.

Pro-life college students Melia Awana of Purdue University’s Students for Life group and Elizabeth McClain of Johnson University in Knoxville, Tenn., also addressed the Indianapolis crowd. And Tuttle read a letter sent by U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who was unable to attend the rally.

“The two things we were asking for [at the rally] were the defunding and investigations of Planned Parenthood,” Tuttle explained.

“Here at the [Indianapolis] rally, we also passed around a petition to [U.S.] Sen. Joe Donnelly to get him to back the U.S. Senate’s ‘Defund Planned Parenthood Act,’ ” Tuttle said.

The rally in Bloomington was also “very enthusiastic and very supportive,” according to Monica Siefker, who helped organize the gathering.

“My hope was to get people more involved in being pro-life, to especially not let this issue die—for the soul of our country,” said Siefker, a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington. “We wanted to put pressure on lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood, which will be a crucial step to stopping abortion in this country.”

Siefker was one of the speakers at the Bloomington rally.

“I know we are all deeply saddened and troubled about the undercover videos that were recently released by the Center for Medical Progress,” Siefker told the crowd that gathered near the Planned Parenthood facility in Bloomington. “That’s why we are gathered here today in front of this abortion facility where every week, on every Thursday, 15-20 unborn babies are killed.”

The mother of six added, “When we come here to pray every Thursday, we often say that we are at a modern-day Calvary, where these innocent lives—made in the image and likeness of God—are scourged and torn from their mothers’ wombs.”

She later noted, “Unless we are very careful and become determined to step out of our comfort zone and refuse to let this issue go away, the same thing is going to happen all over again—abortion is going to remain legal, the trafficking of aborted baby body parts for research will continue on, and our taxpayer dollars are going to continue being used to help facilitate these evils.”

Other speakers at the rally included Father Thomas Kovatch, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, and Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Father Alan Wharton of Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center in Bloomington.

Father Kovatch also offered a prayer at the rally.

“I extended my hands over the crowd and prayed over people who may need healing from post-abortive trauma,” Father Kovatch said later. “I talked about God’s mercy and the forgiveness he offers people who have done it. I also talked about the hurt I witness from men and women who have been involved in an abortion.”

Besides the July 28 rally, Father Kovatch leads a prayer once or twice a month outside the Planned Parenthood facility.

“We’re there on Thursdays, the day they do the abortions there,” he said. “Our focus is an hour of prayer. I think that is the solution. There needs to be a change of heart and a change in the value of life. This is not health care that is happening there. Health care is to promote the health of someone, not to take a life away.”

The rally achieved at least one of its main goals, Siefker said: “People felt it was time to get involved.” †

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