By TONIA HILL
As Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, presented a lecture, Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the University of Chicago School of Law Laird Bell Law Quadrangle, 1111 E. 60th St., a small group of pro-life protestors lined the sidewalk outside the building to confront Richards.
The group, The Pro-Life Action League, which is based in Chicago, was there to serve a counter response to Richards’ lecture on the future of reproductive rights.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, asked in a written statement that Richards consider, “the future taken away from the thousands of babies aborted by her organization.”
“No reckoning of reproductive rights over the past year can be just or accurate if it overlooks the more than 1 million children who have lost their lives to abortion during that period, including more than 300,000 at the hands of Planned Parenthood,” Scheidler said.
Planned Parenthood came under fire last summer when The Center for Medical Progress released a videotape showing Planned Parenthood allegedly negotiating prices for the sale of body parts harvested from unborn children aborted at their centers.
“These are human beings that are being ripped apart, and they’re being sold off for profit for both the fetal body part companies for Planned Parenthood and for the universities that do the research,” said Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League. These are human beings that have not given any consent to be killed or for their body parts to be used and it’s just an atrocity and a violation of human rights.”
The accusations led to investigations by a couple of states across the country, as of yet, state investigators have not found any evidence to support the claims made in the videotape by the Center for Medical Progress.
Reproductive rights have been a longstanding controversial issue for the nation, and it was placed center stage during the 2016 Presidential Election. In recent years, to defund Planned Parenthood has been the aim of Republicans in Congress, and some are speculating that it could very well be a possibility now that control in Congress has swung back to the Republicans.
Pro-choice advocates are also wary of President-Elect Donald Trump and his administration some of which are in support of pro-life, specifically Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who has been vocal and supportive of the anti-abortion legislation.
This year, while serving as governor of Indiana, Pence signed an anti-abortion legislation into law that would ban abortions because a fetus has been diagnosed with a disability, such as Down syndrome. It would have also required pregnant women to view the fetal ultrasound and to listen to the heartbeat at least 18 hours before the procedure.
A federal judge blocked the legislation from becoming law in June of this year.
Another concern is talk surrounding a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which includes a birth control mandate for women. The mandate includes contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care professional.
During the question and answer segment of her lecture, concerned audience members gave voice to these and other fears following the election.
“It [Affordable Care Act] has changed women’s lives, and it has been extraordinary,” Richards said.
She said her fear is the incoming elected officials “are trying to erase all of that. You cannot let that happen.”
Richards encouraged the audience to stay active and continue to work to create change in their communities.
“I do believe to have the kind of local change and the future that we want, we have to have culture change in America and that means being open and honest about issues of sex, sexuality, abortion, birth control these are issues that affect everybody’s lives,” Richards said.