Skip to comments.Lunch With Planned Parenthood
Posted on 06/24/2003 3:24:06 PM PDT by nickcarraway
My husband and I were in Longboat Key, Florida, whiling away a much-awaited holiday with our English friends Diane and Bernard Wilson: sun, sand, the simple life a getaway. Then I made the mistake of reading an ad in the island weekly, The Longboat Observer
CEO of Planned Parenthood of
Was the good Lord sending me an invitation? I said a prayer and decided to attend and Diane was good enough to say she'd come with me. "I'm afraid I'll cry," she said, "but I'll come."
So we made the phone call, paid the $18 for lunch, arrived at 11:30, donned the name tags, and took a big breath as we entered the room. Once inside, our first impression was the view from wraparound windows overlooking the pool, the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. As if that weren't enough, an extraordinarily large, white egret swooped again and again past the window.
In contrast, the interior of the room was the usual, indifferent hotel meeting space with 10 tables of 8, all soon filled. We sat at a table at the back, the better to observe, the better to exit quickly. Our tablemates, who soon arrived, each one alone, were a quiet bunch. No one seemed to know one another or to care to get to know anyone.
"Mrs. Lido", to Diane's left and later Ms. Luncheon Coordinator (Ms. LC) to my right were the only ones to make an effort at chatting with us. They made small talk about St. Louis. I could easily relate to their knowing Mrs. Audrey Senturia as I had gone to school with Ben Senturia whose mother was very involved in Planned Parenthood. (My non-sectarian private school education finally came in handy!)
Mrs. Lido found us "enterprising" to have come to the talk. She didn't ask embarrassing questions, nor did anyone else, leaving us free to be ourselves up to a point. All presumed we were Democrats and/or pro-choice. The small talk among the four of us included cultural issues, zeroing in on libraries, authors and books, a very easy conversation.
As we looked about us, we saw that all the attendees were up in years (we were among the youngest at 60). Many were Jewish, most of them were women and all were Caucasian. All appeared nicely dressed and apparently well educated.
All dived into their salads upon sitting at table; there was no waiting for others to arrive at table before beginning. No grace, of course! Again, no small talk, no attempt to chat. Quite a contrast to our pro-life luncheon tables where there is a babble of talk, animation, interest in others a "relatedness" among participants.
The introducer, a man literally 90 years old, came out swinging. He not only gave it to Bush for his "War On Women" but he also made a few gratuitous remarks about "Bush's war on Iraq". I leaned, puzzled, to Ms. LC and asked, "Would everyone in this room be in agreement with him on the war?" "About 50%", she said.
Ms. Zdravecky, the speaker, proceeded to give a fast-paced, mechanical, defensive talk full of facts, figures, statistics and unexamined assumptions. Ms. Z. who said, "I know all of you read the Times" saw no need to introduce the fact that at this juncture the future doesn't look good for Planned Parenthood (PP) and abortion rights. She rightly assumed her audience had been told the bad news.
She then proceeded to make a number of mistakes in her talk, for starters calling George Bush the worst president for women's rights in the history of the country. (Does she not know Teddy Roosevelt thought contraception akin to murder, never mind abortion?) She then bemoaned our backward "Puritan" country and its high teen pregnancy rate compared to the progressive Europeans who have no such problems.
At that point our tablemates learned from the grumbling and whispering from Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Tyree that the teen pregnancy rate in Great Britain is "appalling" Diane's word. Other mistakes and incorrect assumptions were made in the talk, but I couldn't keep up with my note taking, there were so many of them.
Interesting to observe that at this point both the speaker, Ms. Z, and our nearest tablemates stated that American TV sex is over the top, a scandal. There was no suggestion whatsoever that abortion "rights" could possibly be part of the problem.
While we four were whispering among ourselves, Ms. LC to my right mentioned Joe Simonetta, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress who was in the room insisting on shaking every hand he could find. Ms. LC didn't mention the obvious that Mr. Simonetta appeared to be wearing foundation on his face (no lipstick, however) but instead she gave me the background on the particular seat he wants, Florida's 13th Congressional District. Seems it had been held by a "good" Democrat until the November 2002 election, when the Democrat, a woman, refused to take on Katherine Harris. "No one would take on Katherine Harris", whispered Ms. LC, "Everyone was afraid of her". The Democrat lost to a Republican and now the Dems have had to turn to Joe.
The talk droned on and we learned that PP "which isn't all about abortion though the public seems to think it is" has close to 1,000 clinics and that one-quarter of American women will have used PP services at one time or another. Then, interestingly, we learned that in Florida 30% of all abortions now take place thanks to RU-486.
Ms. Z. was at her most downhearted when explaining that Planned Parenthood has three departments, the third of which is "Public Affairs". All is not well in "Public Affairs". Planned Parenthood's "Public Affairs", in Ms. Z's words, is, actually, "pretty dismal".
She then linked the dismal public affairs problem with the fact that Florida PP has lost Title 10 funding. She seems to think the public is unaware Planned Parenthood is involved in anything other than abortion and that this misconception is surely the reason Title 10 funding exists no more.
In addition to the "startling" November election results and undoubtedly because of them Planned Parenthood finds it necessary to spend much time setting up various "Republicans for Choice" centers around the United States. But Ms. Z. thinks the fires should be lighted under the Democratic clubs around the country as well. She finds it all a bit perplexing.
The Center for Disease Control, we learned, has developed "moralistic tones" rather than sticking to straight science. But while bemoaning all this, Ms. Z skirted around the breast cancer/abortion link, which she was referring to, without ever mentioning those words or phrases.
The most entertaining of her "sad" statistics surely there must be a prize for this was this: "unqualified, ultra-conservative judges" must be rejected because "they create law"!
Ms. Z. ended her defensive, dispirited talk by announcing that PP, NARAL, NOW and others are "taking back the streets with a 'March on Washington', Sunday, April 24, 2004." And, of course, she asked us for donations to Planned Parenthood.
At question time, I discovered the downside of sitting at the back of the room: the 90-year-old Bush basher had a hard time seeing me. The first three questions came, then, from the front of the room.
The first question set the tone: "What is wrong with all these young women today not supporting abortion rights? The answer began with a long, defensive statement from Ms. Z. about PP redoubling its efforts on college campuses. She then, naturally, fell back on the usual answer that young women have no memory of life before Roe.
I finally got the nod to ask a question. I stood, introduced myself and said I was from St. Louis. At this point, all heads swiveled and looked at me. Everything I said to them was true:
My question, I said, is about abortion and the media, a topic you did not cover in your talk. A little background: I had occasion this past year to phone our local NARAL office to find an answer to a specific question. I was grilled, asked my name, address, even my zip code! When I laughed and refused to answer the questions, asking instead, "What in the world does this have to do with anything? I was then asked pointblank if I were a member of the media!
I reassured the woman on the phone I wasn't, then had a pleasant chat and got an answer to my question.
My sense, I continued, is that the media is backing off of abortion, doesn't want to report on it. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis keeps retreating from stories, meanwhile explaining to the public at every turn that the subject is "emotional."
I'd like your experience with the media, Ms. Z, and your opinion as to whether there has been a change. Please answer in depth, if possible.
Ms. Z.: "First, I'd like to congratulate you for your efforts in St. Louis where there is such confrontation."
Ms. Z. went on at some length to give me credit for dealing with "confrontational" St. Louis pro-lifers. I accepted her thanks in silence.
She then let down her hair. Local Florida media is, as always, "sympathetic". They do have to ask questions of the opposition, of course, because they have to quote both sides "but they are good at asking questions that make the opposition look foolish."
National media, on the other hand, Ms. Z. has found to be a disappointment. They are lying down. They are overcome by this new administration.
Others wanted to ask questions, and I had many more, but the questioning was closed down and we were told to fill out the various petitions at our table and donate to Planned Parenthood.
Diane and I decided the better part of valor was a quick exit, so we made our adieus as soon as possible. Mrs. Lido asked Diane what she thought of "our Planned Parenthood", to which Diane answered that she had planned to have a large family, which she did and that she has 11 grandchildren! Whether Mrs. Lido noticed this was not an answer to her question, we do not know. She just smiled and nodded good-bye.
What was interesting about this meeting was not only what was mentioned, but what went unmentioned.
There was no mention whatsoever about religion.
There was no mention of polls.
There was no mention of the "Silent No More" women who publicly rue their abortions.
There was no mention of Planned Parenthood and statutory rape accusations.
There was no mention of the growing evidence of the relationship between abortion and depression, abortion and death.
No mention of abortionists increasingly in trouble with the law.
No mention of 4-D Ultrasound (or any Ultrasound for that matter).
No mention of compelling evidence that unborn children feel pain well before neuroscientists thought they did.
Most important, no mention of the very reason for the down-in-the-mouth talk, all the long faces and all the lonesome women: The words "fetus and "unborn child were never uttered.
© 2003 Women for Faith & Family
Sherry Tyree is vice-president of Women for Faith & Family.
This article previously appeared on the website of Women for Faith & Family, and is adapted by permission.
History will leave these unhappy people behind. It is difficult to continually drum up enthusiasm for the murder of babies.
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