After four years of dedicated activism, a group of Florida pro-lifers is celebrating a “David and Goliath victory” after consistent pressure apparently forced a Planned Parenthood program not to re-apply for a county grant.
Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast has acknowledged it will not request a $50,000 grant from the Martin County Children’s Services Council for its La Promesa program, which was aimed at teaching the Hispanic community about contraception and abortion, in fiscal year 2010/11.
While Planned Parenthood blamed “the unrelenting harassment by radical community members” for their decision, local pro-lifers denied claims of harassment, and said they merely exposed the program’s uselessness and questionable reporting practices.
Local pro-life activist Ed Daccarett told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that pro-lifers could not say for sure why Planned Parenthood declined to apply for funding, except “we think that we did such a job in proving that the program was a total waste.”
“We hung on to this issue [to de-fund PP] like junk yard dogs,” said Daccarett. “We simply would not let go!”
After the council lent a deaf ear to moral and religious concerns expressed by pro-lifers, the group began to investigate the specifics of the PP program, including whether there was a need in the community for such a program, and how it compared with similar services that were already being provided in the county, Daccarett explained.
He said the group interviewed 17 community and Hispanic leaders and approximately 100 Hispanic youth. In a community of no more that 3,200 Hispanics, most had no knowledge of the program – and of the handful of community leaders that knew of the Planned Parenthood program, all reported that the program was useless and a waste.
“No one saw the need for it,” said Daccarett.
The pro-life activists also say they discovered that the number of program “contacts” that was reported by Planned Parenthood’s CEO, Lillian Tamayo – 12,000 Hispanics over a five year period - would have meant that every Hispanic man, woman and child in the community was contacted close to four times each. In addition, they said, Florida Statute 125. 901 specifically state that the Council is to help children, not adults – yet Planned Parenthood reports emanating from five years of funding state that 96% of “contacts” were adults.
The group conducted an entire spectrum of activities to counter the PP program – ranging from prayer, fasting, pickets, protests, witnessing, public comments at the Council’s monthly meeting and legislative venues, TV interviews, and contacting the governor’s office.
As the pressure mounted, and negative newspaper articles appeared against Planned Parenthood and the Children’s Services Council, two board chairs resigned, as well as the executive director and a few council members. These events appeared to have been either a direct, indirect or incidental result of the pro-life activities.
In a letter disclosing the decision not to apply for funding, CEO Lillian A. Tamayo demonized pro-lifers and their efforts as “intimidation, harassment and increased security risk, whose political agenda was outside mainstream American life.”
Tamayo went on to accuse the pro-lifers of subjecting the Council’s staff to “vile intimidation and threats.”
“I pledge not to give up this fight until we create a culture where all community members can receive life saving information and health care without fear of violence, harassment, or intimidation and I know we are in this together,” she wrote.
Yet according to the pro-lifers, no threats or intimidation were carried out – as evidenced by the lack of any police reports to that effect – and all their activities were “done professionally with dignity, respect and with proper research.”
Daccarett said he believed “the straw that broke the camel’s back is that they realized that we had done our homework, and if this thing had been investigated, it would make a number of poeple look really bad, including the executive director at the Children Services Council, and so I think they thought it was best just to bow out.”
Daccarett hoped the story would spread “so that all the pro-lifers could realize that it can be done!”