Erie Times-News: Abortion opponents rally at congressman's Erie office

This article originally appeared in the Erie Times-News and on on March 9, 2011.

Abortion opponents rally at congressman’s Erie office
By David Bruce

A busload of abortion opponents stopped in Erie on Tuesday and took aim at Planned Parenthood.

Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman and project director for the political action committee Susan B. Anthony List, said it’s time for the federal government to stop funding the nationwide and reproductive-health-care provider.

“Planned Parenthood is all about abortion. We, as taxpayers, should not fund these activities that we find morally reprehensible,” Musgrave said during the 30-minute rally outside U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly’s office at the Intermodal Transportation Center, 208 E. Bayfront Parkway.

The SBA List’s “Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood” tour came to Erie to support Kelly, of Butler, R-3rd Dist. Kelly voted in February to block federal aid to Planned Parenthood, which receives about $300 million in government funding a year.

The bill, part of a package of budget cuts, passed the House, but the Senate has not yet considered it.

Kelly, who was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, could not be reached for comment.

Mary Flamini, one of about 55 local abortion opponents who attended the rally, said it’s upsetting to have her tax dollars funding abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics.

“It’s on my conscience that my family’s money is paying for that, and we have no control over it,” Flamini said. “If someone supports Planned Parenthood and wants to give money, that’s fine. But I’m forced to give to it through my taxes.”

There are no Planned Parenthood clinics in Erie. The closest one is about 80 miles away, in Cortland, Ohio.

A group of 14 Planned Parenthood supporters attended the rally, some of them carrying pink signs stating “Don’t take away my cancer screenings” and “Don’t take away my birth control.”

They gathered about 25 yards west of the main rally and did not speak during it.

“We are here today because we do not agree that Planned Parenthood should be defunded,” said Lucia Doyle, of Erie. “They support lifesaving services such as breast-wellness exams and cervical-cancer screenings.”

Lila Rose, president of the abortion-opposing group Live Action, spoke at the rally about her undercover videos that gained national attention in February.

One of them reportedly shows Planned Parenthood employees advising a man posing as a pimp and seeking health services for underage sex workers.

“We have investigated Planned Parenthood and found shocking, disturbing things,” Rose said. “Not only does Planned Parenthood kill 300,000 babies a year, … but it also gives women medical misinformation.”

The Erie rally was part of the SBA List’s seven-state, 11-stop tour that is scheduled to end Thursday.

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