Prayerful response in Champaign to videos on Planned Parenthood

Photo by Rachel Palmberg

Photo by Rachel Palmberg

By Tom Dermody

CHAMPAIGN — As a series of disturbing videos continued to be released claiming Planned Parenthood’s involvement in procuring and selling human body parts from aborted fetuses, some members of the local pro-life community turned to public prayer on Tuesday.

About 15 people took part in a prayerful demonstration during the lunch hour July 28 outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at 305 E. Stoughton in Champaign.

“The gathering was in response to the videos, but we were also there to pray for the clients and staff of Planned Parenthood and anyone who has been damaged by abortion,” said Mary Eppich, coordinator of the Respect Life Ministry at St. Matthew Parish in Champaign.

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Eppich held a three-foot image of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the prayer hour, which came together in less than 24 hours with invitations via email and social media. Attendees were from area parishes, the University of Illinois Students for Life, and as far away as Bloomington.

The group shared stories and concerns, sang and prayed — including the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The Champaign vigil was part of a national debate begun after undercover videos began to be released in mid-July by a group known as the Center for Medical Progress.

The first two videos showed Planned Parenthood physicians talking about preserving fetal organs and tissue for researchers for a fee. A third video was released as The Catholic Post went to press on Tuesday.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released an official video response saying that “allegations that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true.”

The videos, however, show the physicians haggling over prices for an “intact specimen” and casually discussing ways the abortion procedure can be carried out to best preserve body parts requested for use in research.

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000, according to a provision in the Public Health Service Act.

Republican political leaders at the federal and state levels have launched official investigations into the actions of Planned Parenthood, calling for its defunding. So far in 2015, the organization has received $46 million in federal funds; since 2012, it has received $207 million from the federal government.

On July 22, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, and 80 co-sponsors introduced the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, or H.R. 3134, which would immediately halt all sources of federal funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for a one-year period.

In Champaign, Eppich said the prayerful demonstration Tuesday brought responses from passers-by similar to those witnessed by those who take part in “40 Days for Life” vigils.

“Some gave us thumbs-up or honked, others ignored us,” she said. One pedestrian stopped and listened as a young mother in the group shared her testimony.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of this story came from Catholic News Service reports.

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