Presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal and anti-abortion activists pushed Tuesday for defunding Planned Parenthood — using recent allegations that it is involved in the selling of fetal body parts to fuel the drive that brought the national political fight to Louisiana.
Jindal, through his presidential campaign operation, launched a petition drive calling on Starbucks, Bank of America and Fannie Mae to cease funding support to the Planned Parenthood organization.
Meanwhile, about 150 abortion opponents lined both sides of Government Street in front of Planned Parenthood’s Baton Rouge facility, waving signs, chanting “Defund Planned Parenthood” and listening to speakers who called for an investigation of the organization and for the yanking of federal funds that keep its facilities open. The rally occurred amid a strong police presence.
“It is enough. Parts of our babies’ bodies have been torn apart and sold,” Cindy Collins, of Louisiana Abortion Recovery Alliance, told the crowd that stood in the 96-degree afternoon heat.
The Baton Rouge facility does not perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood denies fetal body parts are sold. Some of its facilities help women donate fetal tissue for research purposes, officials said, but no tissue is sold.
The “Women Betrayed” rally was one of 55 planned across the U.S., as anti-abortion interests hope to convert the controversy into a federal funding ban — a fierce political battle they lost in 2011.
Louisiana Right to Life and Students for Life members participated locally.
U.S. Senate Republican leaders said that chamber would vote on the funding ban before the August congressional recess. Democrats have said they will strongly oppose the latest GOP effort to weaken the women’s health care program.
Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million a year — almost entirely for providing health care services for women, including breast exams, cancer screening and family planning.
Federal law withholds funding for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
The controversy stems from undercover videos, which Planned Parenthood claims have been heavily edited to distort conservation involving fetal tissue donations for medical research, making it appear that sales are going on. A third video surfaced Tuesday showed a close-up of what was said to be fetal tissue in a Planned Parenthood lab.
Once the first video surfaced, Republican congressional leaders started pushing for a ban or at the very least a moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding pending an investigation of its operations.
Jindal has ordered a state probe into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which includes Louisiana’s facilities, as well as at five abortion clinics operating in the state.
Each have now told state health officials that none of their operations are involved in fetal tissue donation programs, nor are they associated with any company that sells or donates “any unborn baby organs or body parts.” Each replied that they dispose of the materials according to state and federal regulations.
Planned Parenthood has been in Baton Rouge and New Orleans for the last 30 years providing wellness exams, cancer screenings and family planning services for women and families as well as education programs. Neither facility offers abortion services.
An abortion clinic is planned as part of a new multimillion-dollar health center Planned Parenthood has under construction in New Orleans. But a state license must be obtained. No fetal tissue donation program is planned for it, officials said.