Planned Parenthood opponents rally in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Chanting "Planned Parenthood has got to go," opponents of Planned Parenthood came out to Columbia Health Center Tuesday afternoon to protest the organization and the return of medication and surgical abortion services.

More than 100 opponents showed up to the Planned Parenthood location  as part of the national "Women Betrayed" rally. It was triggered by a video that opponents said caught the organization "red handed" by showing national leaders of the organization discussing the transfer and sale of fetal matter to research facilities. 

Martha Schieber, the communications director with the Vitae Foundation, said her organization supports defunding Planned Parenthood over the allegations.

"Women are being lied to," Schieber said. "They are saying there is a quick fix out there, and they are taking their babies and selling them." 

Supporters of Planned Parenthood also came out to the rally wearing pink to show support for family planning services offered by the organization, claiming  the video that sparked the rally was intentionally edited to put Planned Parenthood in a bad light.

Opponents called upon state and national leaders to defund Planned Parenthood, with Missouri representative Diane Franklin (R) coming to the rally to address the allegations facing the organization.

"The House committee that I chair, Children and Families, will work with the Ways and Means Committee to investigate the actions of Planned Parenthood, and its funding stream," Franklin said. "Our goal is to ensure these atrocities don't take place in our state." 

The Missouri Senate created a new committee, the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, in response to the allegations facing Planned Parenthood.

The committee is chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R) and was created to investigate state Planned Parenthood centers to ensure they were not illegally selling fetal matter or misusing state funds. 

The committee held its first meeting Monday.

During the rally, some Planned Parenthood supporters sounded their car alarms and had passing motorists honk in support of of the group in an attempt to drown our the protesters.

Sarah Catlin, a Columbia resident, said the protesters wanted to intimidate people into not coming to the Columbia Health Center. 

"I think part of the reason they stand out here is not to show support for women, but to threaten the women, and men and children who come in here for services," Catlin said. "Their goal is to shut down our clinic here in Columbia."

Kathy Forck, a campaign director of the '40 Days for Life' group in Columbia,  said that, while she sees the benefit in some of the non-abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood, she does not trust the organization and wants to see them defunded.

"The truth is everyday women are referred for abortion across the river or in St. Louis," Forck said. As long as this clinic is open, abortion will be the main thing. It's all about abortion, abortion, abortion. That is how they fill their coffers." 

The Senate committee will meet next month to consider the issue.