“The truth is that Planned Parenthood could not make one dime from the sale of tissue that was just a clump of cells unless what they are harvesting is, in fact, human organs for sale. And if the organs are human, they must have come from a human being … created equal, but not yet born.”
This is the basis of the pro-life argument, outlined by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery at an Aug. 22 rally outside of Planned Parenthood in Phoenix. Five other similar rallies were held throughout the state, including in Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Tempe and Tucson.
Thousands attended rallies throughout the country in response to a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children.
“The thing to reflect on, in our Declaration of Independence, we acknowledge … we’re endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights,” Montgomery told The Catholic Sun. “We’re created with that right [to life]. It’s independent of whether we’re born. The unborn are entitled to the same degree of protection as anyone else.
“We as a country have to come to grips with that, especially in light of the Planned Parenthood videos,” added Montgomery, who is a parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert.
Approximately 4,700 protestors gathered at rallies throughout the state, including 1,600 at the Phoenix location. Planned Parenthood of Arizona closed its facilities that day to hold a counter-protest at its Phoenix center. While representatives wouldn’t speak to The Catholic Sun, Christine Accurso, executive director of First Way Pregnancy Center, estimated approximately 150 attended the counter-protest.
Accurso, who introduced speakers at the event and who also addressed the crowd, directed some of her remarks at those gathered across the street in support of Planned Parenthood.
“For those supporting Planned Parenthood, we are here for you, too. We care about these children, we care about moms and we care about you,” she said.
The rally, which was organized by the Respect Life team at St. Joan of Arc Parish, was an ecumenical effort. Accurso said the success of the pro-life movement in Arizona is based partly on the fact that it’s made up of a coalition of people of all faiths and all ends of the political spectrum.
“This is not a religious effort. This is the effort of people to protect and defend and stand up for the unborn,” she said.
Karen Parker, an African-American woman who attends Phoenix First Assembly of God, has been active in the pro-life movement for years and attended the rally carrying a sign that included “#BlackLivesMatter,” a reference to the social media campaign meant to draw attention to violence against African Americans and to the racist leanings of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.
“Not every African American wants abortion, so I’m hoping to change the mindset of those deceived into thinking that’s a choice for us,” Parker said. “Our numbers as a minority could be larger if it wasn’t a concentrated effort to target the minority community.”
Fr. Chris Axline, a priest in residence at St. Mary Magdalene and chaplain at Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler, attended the rally and found inspiration in bumping into some of his students.
“It gives me great hope in the next generation of Catholics,” he said. “They’re hungry and they want the truth. To see them being fed and seek that out is beautiful.”