Pedro Elias, public affairs director of Planned Parenthood in Fresno, recently spoke before a packed house at our September meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club at Denny’s. It’s probably just as well a certain someone wasn’t there. She would have been 112 years old today. My mother, Isabelle Marion Cavanaugh, despised Planned Parenthood.
I hope you’re sitting down for this.
Starting at the age of 8, I was an altar boy for more than nine years. A walk to serve daily Mass from our home on Ashworth Place took us directly past the Syracuse Chapter of Planned Parenthood on East Genesee Street, so noted by a large sign prominently placed on its front lawn.
My widowed mother, president of the St. Joseph Altar & Rosary Society, was abundantly clear she did not approve of the organization, the sign or the grass upon which it rested. Yet, when pressed for details, she demurred on specifics. “Ask Father Norcott,” she would say.
I eventually discovered at summer camp that the main Catholic issue against Planned Parenthood in the late 40s was birth control. Any kind. It wasn’t until much later that the subject of abortion entered the forefront, although it’s historically proven Margaret Sanger’s original motivation in founding The American Birth Control League was anti-abortion from the outset.
Sanger, an Irish-American Catholic, herself, was one of 11 children – her mother also having suffered seven miscarriages and finally dying at the age of 50.
A fertilized human egg is approximately the size of the dot at the end of this sentence. Potentiality is not personality.
It was 42 years ago that the United States Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision (Roe v. Wade) that the right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a women’s decision to have an abortion. The vote wasn’t even close - 7 to 2.
The last time “fiscally responsible” Republicans brought about government closure, its ultimate cost to the American economy was more than $24 billion.
Ignoring major areas of strategically critical priority - such as almost everything else - now we have our Republican-led 114th Congress threatening to recklessly shut down the government - again - but this time over funding Planned Parenthood since it allegedly chops up and sells baby body parts. The fundamental fact that it does no such thing seems hopelessly lost in the hyped hysteria of right wing propaganda as asinine as its assertions.
A major editorial in the New York Times calls the “Center for Medical Progress” campaign “a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and life saving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal.”
The San Jose Mercury News writes, “Anyone with half a brain can see through the heavily edited ‘gotcha’ videos.”
The Sacramento Bee succinctly states, “The charge that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal parts is cynical and bogus.”
Fetal tissue research has produced vaccines that have saved millions of lives and is now working toward major advances in the life or death struggle against Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other terminal diseases.
California Planned Parenthood affiliates are providing services to nearly one million patients this year, including 866,000 emergency contraception kits, 435,000 pregnancy tests and 112,000 pap tests detecting and preventing possible cancers.
In our state alone, Planned Parenthood schedules more than 90,000 breast exams annually and initiates well over two million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
I agree with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren: “Republicans may think it’s fun to play politics with Planned Parenthood to score points with presidential primary voters, but this isn’t a game to the millions of women who depend on Planned Parenthood for basic medical care each year - and who have nowhere else to go.”