After a shooting spree at a clinic in Colorado, a conservative Florida group has postponed a rally that had been scheduled next week to protest government funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, sponsor of the “Florida Taxpayer Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood,” said the Dec. 7 event at the Florida Capitol will take place in the spring instead.
“This violent and horrifying act by someone who has a troubling and violent past is in complete opposition to the pro-life cause,” John Stemberger, the council’s president, said in a statement. “We believe that we must continue promoting the pro-life message and reiterate the concern we have for every human life, including the victims of this tragedy.”
The shootings Friday killed a police officer who responded to the scene, a mother of two and an Iraq war veteran. Nine others were wounded. Robert Lewis Dear, 57, appeared in court late Monday afternoon to face charges.
However, Stemberger said, “We also admonish those on the other side of this issue who are attempting to use this tragedy for their own political gains.”
The rally had been aimed at Gov. Rick Scott, despite his opposition to abortion, because Stemberger contends that Scott could do more to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding.
Planned Parenthood, which offers reproductive-health and other services, has been under fire for months after the release of controversial videos by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress.
After Scott saw the videos in July, officials from the state Agency for Health Care Administration inspected and issued fines against five abortion clinics — including three Planned Parenthood clinics — citing them for illegally performing second-trimester abortions.
The clinics deny the charges, contending that the state altered its definition of a first trimester in order to justify the administrative actions.
But Stemberger has argued for months that Scott could do more to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding, “through Florida’s contract with Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider and through Title X (federal family planning) funding, which six other governors and states have discontinued.”
Both Scott and Planned Parenthood have disagreed with that analysis, saying the governor would be in violation of federal law if he took Stemberger’s advice.
Many conservatives, including Stemberger, say the videos implicate Planned Parenthood in profiting from selling fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood vehemently denies the charge, but congressional Republicans have used the issue to try to cut off federal funding for the organization. The videos also have roiled the GOP presidential primary.
“Governor Rick Scott continues to allow state contracts and taxpayers dollars to fund the violence that happens inside of Planned Parenthood every day and this must be stopped,” Stemberger wrote Monday. “But the Taxpayers Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood cannot continue while the families and loved ones of these victims are grieving.”
A spokeswoman for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates declined comment, writing in an email that “our staff is focusing on the health and safety of our patients today.”
But on Friday, following the shooting, the group’s executive director, Laura Goodhue, wrote in a statement, “Here in Florida and across the country, Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record.”
“We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack,” Goodhue added. “We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”
–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida
Sandra Reynold says
Does this group not know the repercussions of defunding Planned Parenthood? Do they know all the services they provide? I could list them here, but they wouldn’t read it anyway. It is one thing to be against funding abortions but do you destroy a much needed service for women and their families too?
Groups like the Florida Family Policy Council are among America’s most dangerous domestic threats. They inflame passions through lies and disinformation. They encourage, enable and empower right-wing anti-abortion fanatics to threaten and to kill. They have the blood of murdered doctors, Planned Parenthood staffers, and now, a law enforcement officer and innocent visitors to a Planned Parenthood facility. We are more endangered by these far-right evangelical zealots than any middle eastern refugee. Shame on them and shame on anyone who supports them.
Right On Knightwatch and Sandra Reynold! I couldn’t agree more!
We need a change is this country all right. . . a change towards peace and love, and away from fear and hate!
Yes Sherry. Those same Christian values these hate groups claim, but don’t practice.
Good idea. Why don’t you suspend your “rallies” indefinitely, so as not to incite further violence from crazy so-called “Pro-Lifers?”
All of these comments are ridiculous being that PP has killed millions of unborn babies over the years. Explain how the these organizations are so dangerous when PP’s kill record should be the envy of ISIS. Liberals make no sense whatsoever.
All those who want to take away women’s health care and who want to take away her rights to her own body and require that she be treated as an animal and give birth regardless of the circumstances, please register today to adopt ALL those babies immediately! What. . . you only want them if they are white, the correct gender, oh yes and in perfect health, and come from well to do genius parents?
Oh Dear. . . OK, in that case, please line up to vote for increased taxes to support those children for the rest of their lives. What. . . you don’t want increased taxes, and you really would prefer that all Social Services be discontinued?
Oh. . . I see, you come from another planet where you really can have it both ways. . . you can completely rule over other people because of your personal beliefs. . . regardless of what the majority of those people say. You can force them to bear children, and then you can require that they be completely responsible for those children without any assistance from you in any way!
On top of that you will NOT provide a “safe” place for those children to go to school because your omnipotent master “NRA” says to ignore the life of those children because they have left the womb.
Is that the “sense” you are referring to?
What happened in California??