Susan Hulet offered up a brief prayer as she stood outside a Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday afternoon.
“Father, forgive us for letting this happen,” she said, talking about abortions that have been performed across the country during the past four decades that the procedure has been legal.
“America has abandoned its weakest,” said Hulet, who founded the Tarrant County-based Mercy House, a Christian refuge that provides shelter and support to pregnant women in need. “Is this the legacy we want for our future?”
Hulet joined her voice with more than 100 others at a local rally calling for the government to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, a reproductive health services and abortion provider.
Similar rallies were held across the nation Tuesday after this month’s release of controversial videos by the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, which secretly taped a Planned Parenthood official talking about harvesting body parts from aborted fetuses.
Anti-abortion advocates say the videos, the latest of which was released Tuesday, show trafficking of those harvested body parts. Planned Parenthood officials say they follow the law and don’t benefit from decisions to donate tissue for medical research.
Those gathered outside the clinic in southwest Fort Worth, at 6464 John Ryan Drive, say it’s time to do away with the organization and make sure that no tax dollars are directed to Planned Parenthood.
“This is our best chance in years to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Jason Vaughn, a 31-year-old Lewisville man and founder of Pro Life Texas who helped organize Tuesday’s rally. “What can we do to say enough is enough?
“Women and children should not be harmed and it should not be done with our tax dollars.”
As anti-abortion advocates prayed outside the Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday, some chanting Hail Marys, others stood by to support the organization and its efforts.
“People are spreading blatant lies about Planned Parenthood and I’m here to support what they do,” said Adam Davies, a 24-year-old Fort Worth man, who stood for more than an hour holding a sign that read, “I stand with Planned Parenthood.”
Jerome Haltom, a 33-year-old Dallas man, stood nearby carrying a sign that read, “Your uterus, your choice.”
He said he felt the need to show support for Planned Parenthood because “somebody has to do it.”
They were in the minority as others — including Stephen Broden, a former GOP congressional candidate and founder of the National Black ProLife Coalition — preached of the need to end abortion and Planned Parenthood.
“They are using government funds to fuel their industry,” he said. “We want to see taxpayer funds removed from this organization.”
Protesters, part of a national movement using the #WomenBetrayed hashtag, say Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in government funding each year.
Melissa Cook, a 31-year-old from the city of Anna, drove in for the rally with her husband, Aaron, and their 6-month-old son, Jackson.
“We saw the videos and we felt like this was a good time to get involved,” she said. “I have a son and that makes it that much more meaningful.
“We want people to choose life and we don’t want to pay for the death that’s happening.”
Planned Parenthood reaction
Officials for Planned Parenthood have said the videos are heavily edited and they don’t make money from donating fetal organs for scientific research.
They also said the group behind the video has targeted Planned Parenthood and other health centers, fraudulently representing themselves.
“The folks behind this attack are part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement — that has been behind the bombing of clinics, and the murder of doctors in their homes and in their churches,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This latest revelation shows that they made an incredible violation of women’s privacy.
“Let’s be clear: this group has zero credibility. They … have shown they would do anything in their quest to end safe and legal abortion.”
The American Federation of Teachers Women’s Rights committee spoke up for Planned Parenthood and even called for an investigation into the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released the secret video.
“These attacks are thinly veiled attempts to remove public funding and support from Planned Parenthood affiliates and force underserved populations to forgo services necessary for the health of our communities,” said Dianne Jackson, vice chair of the AFT’s women’s rights committee.
After the first video was released, Texas officials quickly reacted.
Paxton plans to testify before the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee at the Capitol Wednesday morning about “the investigation into abortion provider practices in Texas.”
On Tuesday, to help legislators prepare for the meeting, Paxton provided access to video footage believed to have been taken in a Houston abortion facility, according to the Austin-American Statesman.
In Congress, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, co-sponsored the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015,” saying he wants to put an immediate ban on all federal funding for Planned Parenthood while Congress investigates the group’s activities.
“I believe I have a constitutional and moral obligation to protect those who do not have the power to protect themselves,” said Barton, whose district includes parts of Arlington. “I will continue to fight in Congress for the unborn.”
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee began reviewing the group’s practices earlier this month.
Sean Gillen, an 18-year-old from Arlington who helped organize Tuesday’s rally in Fort Worth, offered up a challenge for younger Texans.
He said he and others are constantly told that the “youth are the future.”
“But we are not the future of the pro-life movement,” he said. “We are the pro-life movement. We decide what this place is going to be like 10 years from now in the state of Texas.”
“Will there be abortion? Will there be Planned Parenthood? Will women and unborn babies be treated like objects? That is up to us to decide.”
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610