Protest scheduled for new Planned Parenthood facility

January 18, 2010 3:02:37 PM PST
Pro-life activists are converging on Houston for a protest. They're upset that Planned Parenthood is about to open a nearly 80,000 square foot headquarters that will offer abortions, among other services.Once construction is complete, an old bank building on the Gulf Freeway will be reborn as one of the largest Planned Parenthood facilities in the nation.

For Lou Engle, a Kansas City preacher, a Planned Parenthood facility this big is just too much.

"I am not going to be here in the generation that was silent at a time when the abortion supercenters arose in America," said Engle.

Engle is leading a protest at the site. He won't say for sure, but other planners tell us it could attract as many as 5,000 people.

The protest isn't timed to coincide with the opening. The place won't be open for months so instead protestors have a different reason for bringing it here today.

"We believe Planned Parenthood was founded and organized specifically to target minorities," said protest organizer Doug Springer.

Protestors say this clinic was put here in a minority neighborhood to target those mothers for abortion services.

"You may not say Planned Parenthood is racist like their founder, but 76 percent of abortion clinics are in Hispanic and black American neighborhoods," said Engle.

We can't verify that number, but did ask Planned Parenthood about it.

"They should be ashamed," said Rachelle Tafolla of Planned Parenthood of Houston & Southeast Texas.

We asked experts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. what he would've thought. It turns out Dr. King himself didn't really talk about abortion since it wasn't an issue then. He did support birth control and family planning in a 1957 magazine column. When he accepted an award named after the supposed racist founder of Planned Parenthood in 1966, Dr. King actually praised her work.

Tafolla with Planned Parenthood says just five to seven percent of their patient visits are for abortions, the rest are for other medical services and they're moving here because that's where the need is.

"Frankly, we could be located anywhere in Harris County. That's why we have 10 health centers in southeast Texas. This particular facility is located in a neighborhood that's easily accessible for our clients and it provides a secure perimeter for our clients who can come in with little to no harassment from protestors," said Tafolla.

The protest begins today at 9:30am at the Catholic Charismatic Center. Protestors vow to stay silent and in prayer as they march from there to the still unopened Planned Parenthood clinic in the afternoon.