On the day Planned Parenthood opened, they were braced for the worst. Sometimes their clinics face protestors or even bombs as they go about their work giving women access to healthcare and contraception.
On April 3 the clinic held a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by over 100 individuals. The community welcomed Planned Parenthood with open arms, including the Chamber of Commerce, Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter, dozens of other political figures, including U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Oakland County) and a kick-off party was held at Affirmations Community Center.
“We are thrilled to start serving the people of Oakland County closer to home,” said PPMSM CEO Lori Lamerand.
Oakland County currently has no reproductive health care facility that serves patients on a sliding fee scale. “Especially in these tough economic times, it is more critical than ever to provide access essential health care including affordable birth control and cancer screenings,” said Lamerand.
She also welcomed the LGBT community to use the clinic’s services. “We also hope to reach out to the LGBTQ community as a whole to take advantage of another of our core services, testing and treatment of STDs and HIV/AIDS testing. Last year, we conducted more than 58,000 tests for sexually transmitted diseases and 6,760 HIV tests. We are considering offering other services specifically designed for members of the LGBTQ community, like intra uterine insemination and hormone therapy for those in gender transition.” Those services are not yet available.
Protests by longtime crusader
On April 2, the clinic’s first official day of business, a group of 30 protestors came, with bloody baby pictures and an anti-abortion message. They got some press attention and a mixture of supportive honks and jeers from passing drivers, but the group cleared out in the afternoon as word spread of counter-protestors organizing.
Planned Parenthood has over 700 clinics nationwide and provides multiple health-related services, primarily involving a woman’s reproductive system. They do PAP smears to detect disease, breast exams, STD testing and more. Abortions make up just 3 percent of the services offered, and abortion is not offered at the new Ferndale clinic.
Yet the anti-abortion protestors still came on the clinic’s first day. They gathered on the sidewalk and in the median of Woodward, holding posters showing the bloody body parts of fetuses and chanting against abortion.
“We love babies yes we do, we love babies how ’bout you?” chanted a handful of kids holding yellow balloons with the word “life” on it.
When asked why they were chanting, the youth said that Planned Parenthood kills babies. One of the boys laughed and shouted over the rest, “Planned Parenthood is baby murderers!”
Citizens for Pro-Life Executive Director Monica Migliorino-Miller made sure that she talked to reporters who were there. She claimed that Planned Parenthood receives 41 percent of its funding from abortions, contrary to documented facts, and that they get kickbacks for referrals to abortion clinics. The 2008-2009 Annual Report shows the Health Center income in total comes to only 37 percent, and abortion services are only 3 percent of that. When asked where she got her information, Miller said it was in Planned Parenthood’s 2009 report. She correctly cited that there were 300,000 abortions for one year (2008-2009) nationwide.
When asked about the other services Planned Parenthood provides Miller said, “That’s not their real focus. It’s not about healthcare. Think about what is their real focus – it’s an ethic of sexual promiscuity that causes the problems. We need to attend to the responsibility and morality. The point is nobody should welcome a group like this.”
Breaking the law?
The South Lyon activist said she’s been crusading against abortion since 1973. In the ’80s Miller was involved in groups that advocated illegal activity to end abortion, breaking the law to stop abortion, she now says love is the answer.
She has written books and papers on abortion and on the proper role of women in society and Catholicism. Miller is also the woman behind approximately 50 percent of the bloody images seen in pro-life propaganda.
In an October 2009 interview with the New York Times, Miller described the lengths she’d gone through to find tissue from abortion clinics, including stealing medical facility garbage and intercepting thousands of aborted fetuses that were on their way for disposal. She shared that she rented special camera equipment to get close enough to the tiny subjects to capture details like the beginnings of fingers. Though the images are blown up as large as placards and even billboards, the body parts are often smaller than the face of a dime, and the photographs taken from millimeters away.
In one essay Miller wrote titled “In Light of the Scott Roeder Conviction: A Working Paper on the Use of Force to Defend Unborn Human Life,” she makes a winding debate over the use of force to stop abortion, summarizing with, “Indeed, I believe the use of force against abortions should be publicly condemned. Simply because a person has the right to the use of force in defense of life does not necessarily mean he must, or should, make use of it.”
The essay goes on to say, “I believe that our most effective weapon against abortion is adhering to the Cross of Christ. Perhaps God will call us to fight a bloody war over abortion, but ultimately the cause of abortion can still only be healed through a massive change of heart – a conversion.”
Miller’s paper contends that killing is not the last alternative, so it is not moral to kill.
“There are many actions that can be done far short of killing an abortionist to save the lives of just as many unborn children on any given day. The property that is used to do the killing can be destroyed rather than the baby killer himself. Indeed, sidewalk counseling probably saves just as many lives within a given time period as taking out an abortionist would.”
Other protestors on the scene echoed Miller’s religious views, giving false information about Planned Parenthood funding and services and questioning anyone who came near the clinic.
A young protestor, Lindsay Harman of Bloomfield, held a sign reading, “Planned Parenthood Lies to Women.” When asked about her reasons for protesting, she gave inaccurate and false information, including that Planned Parenthood does secret abortions and that the government gives them tax money to do it.
“They say they do health for women, but they don’t do mammograms or pap smears. They dispense birth control pills that don’t prevent STDs and they give condoms that let the AIDS virus through. It really causes more STDS because people on birth control pills don’t use condoms. And even if they do use condoms it gives them false security because condoms break all the time and then they have a child conceived out of wedlock and they have to come back to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. That’s how they get their money. …If there were no condoms or birth control pills then unsafe behavior would drop and people wouldn’t have premarital sex and people wouldn’t need abortions,” said Harman.
The protestors stayed just a couple of hours, and the opening has been an otherwise welcome event in the community. It is the first Planned Parenthood in Oakland County, although they are currently in legal battles to open another location in Auburn Hills.