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Faith Leaders Step Up in Defense of Planned Parenthood

Physician with female patient. Credit: Tashi-Delek.
Physician with female patient. Credit: Tashi-Delek.
August 6, 2015

DENVER – Faith leaders are stepping forward in defense of Planned Parenthood in the wake of congressional efforts to defund the organization.

Planned Parenthood has come under scrutiny after several videos were released by an anti-abortion group purporting to show company representatives discussing the process of obtaining fetal tissue for research.

Amanda Henderson, a minister and executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, says the controversy is overshadowing the health-care services the organization provides – particularly to low-income women and women of color.

"They provide well-woman exams, cancer screenings, preventive care," says Henderson. "Through that work they are saving lives, so it's vital they exist."

Henderson adds abortion services represent less than 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's work, and are not funded by federal dollars. She warns cuts would limit women's access to health care and contraception nationally, which could lead to more unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis is also standing by Planned Parenthood. They challenged claims made in the videos that Planned Parenthood profits from providing fetal tissue for research.

They say Planned Parenthood only recovers its costs legally and with patient consent. The rabbis condemned the videos as a "deceptive media campaign." Henderson agrees, and says Congress, comprised mostly of men, shouldn't be in the business of limiting women's access to health care.

"This is very much a set-up situation, where the videos were obtained illegally," says Henderson. "It's troubling, ethically, they are pouncing on one specific situation taken out of context."

On Monday, a move by the U.S. Senate to cut more than $500 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood fell short – but top Republican leaders say they'll eventually get the job done, even if it means another government shutdown in October.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO