You could also call this the story Planned Parenthood doesn't want to be told. As Judie Brown rightly said in a recent column "This past weekend's news from Amarillo, Texas is an answer to prayer, steadfast focus on the evils of Planned Parenthood and commitment to expose the truth about an organization rooted in racist, eugenicist propaganda
." (WHEN HEROES STAND TALL PLANNED PARENTHOOD FALLS
) I'll be posting her entire column soon. But she is right about what this means. This is a joyous story of the power of persistant prayer in the battle against the "culture of death".
Planned Parenthood out of Texas Panhandle
In a stunning development just before Christmas, Claudia Stravato, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle, announced that she was resigning her position and that the local PP affiliate was, effective December 31, 2008, disassociating itself from the Planned Parenthood Federation and would no longer use the name Planned Parenthood.
To understand the magnitude of this announcement, we need to look briefly at the fight against Planned Parenthood in the Texas Panhandle.
In 1997, Bishop John W. Yanta was installed as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo, Texas. He was grieved to learn that there were 19 Planned Parenthood facilities within the boundaries of his diocese. He described that situation as "a bishop's worst nightmare."
One of Bishop Yanta's first public appearances as Bishop of Amarillo was at a protest of a Planned Parenthood fundraiser where abortionist Henry Foster was the featured speaker. Bishop Yanta has continually taken a strong stand against Planned Parenthood and the culture of death by attending many of the weekly prayer vigils that take place outside Planned Parenthood facilities throughout the diocese. He also established a weekly diocesan Respect Life Mass.
Bishop Yanta invited STOPP to come to Amarillo and educate the community and pro-life activists on Planned Parenthood. STOPP’s leader, Jim Sedlak, had previously worked with Bishop Yanta while he was in San Antonio. Jim was to work closely through the years with Rita Diller, head of the diocesan Respect Life Office.
In October of 1998, Bishop Yanta sent a message to all Catholics of the diocese regarding Planned Parenthood: "As your bishop and shepherd, I ask all Catholics not to use their services, not to belong to any of their boards, not to serve as a volunteer and not to be employed there. In resigning your employment there, I will be happy to assist you in finding employment elsewhere so you will not be cooperating in these immoral practices and being a source of scandal both within and outside the Church and community. I make this plea, in love, as my duty to continue the mission of Jesus Christ: to teach, to sanctify and to govern."
The Respect Life office instituted STOPP’s plan to defeat Planned Parenthood. They did so in a very organized and persistent way – adding activities to the plan as the needs arose.
The first fruits of this activity were realized in 1999 when Claudia Stravato, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle, announced that Planned Parenthood was closing down four of its offices. She blamed the closures on federal funding cuts.
Bishop Yanta was continually active in the fight against Planned Parenthood. Here is a short description of one of the bishop’s many activities:
The Most Rev. John W. Yanta, bishop of Amarillo, Texas, led 40 faithful Christians in the Rosary outside of the gates of the exclusive Citadel Community in Amarillo on Sept. 22, 2000. Inside the community, at the home of a PP supporter, the "Friends of Planned Parenthood" were holding their annual party to honor ten longtime contributors and to increase membership. Bishop Yanta has been an outstanding champion for life and opponent of PP. Joining the bishop on Sept. 22 were fourth degree Knights of Columbus, dressed in full regalia, and holding a large picture of baby Malachi, a 21-week-old pre-born child found dead at an abortion facility. PP partygoers had to face the reality of what PP does to children.
A pro-lifer in attendance commented, "This child received honor and dignity from the Knights. As I stood there I kept thinking of the words of our Lord, 'as you do it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.'" As the sun set, Bishop Yanta closed with a special prayer for the repentance of those involved in the abortion industry.
The faithful pro-lifers of the Texas Panhandle witnessed the closure of another clinic in 2000 and then five more clinics closed down in 2001. By the end of 2003, a total of 14 Planned Parenthood clinics had closed their doors.
Numbers can’t tell the whole story of what happened in Amarillo. To give you a real feel for the kind of activity going on there, the following is a report we received from Rita Diller in September of 2004 as they were working hard to get the remaining five PP clinics closed:
I have to tell you about our amazing evening. On September 11, eight pro-life supporters, ranging in age from thirteen to eighty-something ventured onto Club View Drive carrying signs and praying in opposition to a Planned Parenthood fundraiser that was to be held at the home of Don and Dean Paxton in a very opulent neighborhood near Tascosa Country Club, an area inhabited for the most part by physicians.
Since there were no sidewalks, we had no choice but to stand in the street near the curb. We found a place that we thought would be ideal in front of a vacant lot, nestled among what must have been the New York City of red ant beds. We strategically placed our signs, including a very large sign comparing the Nazi Holocaust with Planned Parenthood’s Holocaust, and dutifully and earnestly began praying and stamping ants. It must have indeed looked like a very strange tribal ritual taking place, what with all the praying and stamping.
At any rate, the neighbors began to pour out of their houses to survey the unusual situation. The gentleman who lived directly across from our little gathering came out to tell us how much he supported our opposition to Planned Parenthood and to wonder aloud why we were in front of his house instead of the home where the party was taking place. I explained to him that there were safety concerns for the individuals who were standing in the street praying because of past vehicular assault threats by Planned Parenthood supporters.
We were then approached by another resident of the neighborhood who said he had been deceived about what type of function was taking place at the Paxtons, and he left us saying that he was going to “get in the faces of the Paxtons” for hosting a fundraiser for, in his words, “Planned Murderers.”
The angry neighbor had no sooner departed than three police squad cars rounded the corner in great haste stopping, of course, right in front of our little tribal prayer-dance. They said someone had reported “protestors all over the street” and they came prepared for a mob, I suppose, only to find eight Catholics praying the rosary and stamping ants, in between visiting with the neighbors. They decided that we were fine and went down the street to talk to the Paxtons.
A few minutes later our friendly patrolmen were back, saying that we had supporters in the neighborhood and that the gentleman two houses down from the Paxtons had invited us to stand in his yard. However, he said the gentleman was standing in his yard greeting those who were attending the function with the news that “Planned Parenthood is a bunch of murderers.” I told the officer we would just stay put.
Yet another neighbor stopped to tell us he is Catholic and opposes Planned Parenthood and thanked us for being there.
Then Planned Parenthood supporters began employing their usual tactic of attempting to park their cars where we were standing to block the view of our signs. The gentleman across the street from the ant bed told us we could stand in his driveway. Ah, at last, the ant dance could stop, but not before I had a swollen toe to show for my lack of dexterity.
He became our host for the evening, along with the neighbors to the north. The red carpet was rolled out for us, and as sometimes happens when we go into a neighborhood to pray because of a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, we made some very dear new friends. The residents of the neighborhood brought us soft drinks and Gatorade – enough for twelve times as many as were there. Others kept stopping by to tell us how much they supported us and were going up and down the block telling other neighbors why we were there.
The neighbors to the north stood outside with us since they were very opposed to Planned Parenthood and were very interested in seeing who was supporting them. They brought us insect repellent. We had escaped the ants only to find the mosquitoes were starting to bite. They were vicious little creatures, too. At any rate, about an hour into the evening, the son of the neighbor to the north showed up with a date and they were headed for … Planned Parenthood’s party. They parked in Mom’s driveway, who let them know in no uncertain terms that Planned Parenthood’s party was not the place to go, but the date was a cousin of one of the hosts so off they went. After all, they thought it was just a party.
Mom had Younger Brother move Older Brother’s car out of the driveway and into the street all the way to the far end of the block. Younger Brother made a sign and placed it on the back window of Older Brother’s car. It said “Abortion is Bad.” Sister was very distraught and came over to tell us that Older Brother had gone to the Planned Parenthood function.
Then Older Brother came home. He told Mom that he felt nasty and slimey for having been there; that they were trying to get him to join Friends of Planned Parenthood and he finally just walked away. Soon his date called and asked him to come back and get her. She did not want to be there, either. The two younger brothers decided they wanted to hold signs opposing Planned Parenthood and that is exactly what they did for at least an hour, standing on the street until after dark in opposition to the debacle that Planned Parenthood was conducting in their neighborhood. By the way, the signs showed up very nicely in the headlights of the party-goers as they were leaving.
We prayed umpteen decades of the rosary, also the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and just had the most blessed three and a half hours you could ever imagine among our new found friends. There is always so much trepidation involved in going into an unknown neighborhood to proclaim the Gospel of Life, but God blesses these efforts beyond belief, and I know that what we saw and heard and experienced out on Club View Drive in Amarillo, Texas on September 11 was only a tiny bit of the impact that prayer vigil will have on the neighborhood and on our city. Thanks be to God for giving us the opportunity and courage to be there and for the wonderful people of the neighborhood who made us feel like royalty.
Can you imagine what a tremendous impact the response of this neighborhood must have had on Planned Parenthood’s annual membership gala? Only in God’s great design could something like this have happened.
Remember, this all took place seven years after the battle against Planned Parenthood had begun in Amarillo and after 14 of 19 clinics had already closed their doors. The folks in Amarillo are dedicated to the task of closing down Planned Parenthood.
The struggle continued. Planned Parenthood actually opened a new clinic, but had to close it down six months later for lack of business. By the end of 2006, it had closed three more clinics and had only two left – both in the city of Amarillo.
Through all of this activity, Planned Parenthood of Amarillo was struggling financially. It had seen its net assets fall from $3,165,225 in 1998 to just $279,633 in 2007. It was clear that all the pro-life efforts had hurt the financial stability of the organization and Planned Parenthood Federation of America was after the local affiliate board to merge its operation with another, more successful operation. But the local board refused and, instead, has disaffiliated itself from Planned Parenthood.
Thus, after 12 years of intense effort, the Diocese of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle are Planned Parenthood – Free. Beginning January 1, 2009, there will not be a single Planned Parenthood clinic operating there. Praise God!We are so happy to be able to bring you this wondrous news in the week we celebrate Christmas. To God goes all the glory.
Labels: Planned Parenthood