February 14, 2011 / 9:40 PM / 9 years ago

Prayer vigil targets Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Protesters converged on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington on Monday in what they said was one of a number of nationwide prayer vigils at the group’s operations, which they say encourage sex trafficking.

The groups, which attracted about 70 to 100 people to the Washington vigil, would like to see government subsidies for health provider Planned Parenthood ended.

Live Action — part of a coalition of anti-abortion groups called Expose Planned Parenthood sponsoring the vigils — has in recent weeks released videos in which men and women posing as players in the sex trade request help from Planned Parenthood in getting abortions for under-age prostitutes.

“The horrors exposed in the recent videos were not isolated incidents in the history of a group willing to be a chief ally in the exploitation of women and girls,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement after the protest.

“Yet, this organization insists that it deserves taxpayers’ continued support,” she said.

Since the videos were released, U.S. Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, has proposed legislation to deny family planning federal funding to any healthcare provider that offers abortion.

Planned Parenthood said the videos were not accurate and had been edited in misleading ways, and its staff acted appropriately in most cases, although it did fire one employee involved and said it would retrain staff on reporting risks to minors’ welfare and tighten disciplinary action.

The group did not have an immediate statement on Monday, but last week Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: “There is a coordinated and highly political effort to undermine Planned Parenthood and the health care we provide.”

“This effort includes fraudulent activities driven by organizations with a clear mission to eliminate family planning, birth control, and legal abortion. Simply put, their goal is to prevent women from accessing reproductive health care services.”

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton

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