SOUTH BEND — The House recently voted to stop all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The measure is headed to the Senate. MoveOn.org sponsored a protest Thursday in downtown South Bend with a message to politicians: The people of northern Indiana can't afford to lose this organization.
"I think we are getting this rejuvenation again," said protester Sabrina Lute. "The 60s were a big time for change, the 70s. People were taking very active approaches."
That movement is far from over. We've heard a lot of cut, cut, cut. Lute said cuts to Planned Parenthood are just too deep.
"I think it's important for everyone to have reproductive rights and access to good health care," she said.
Protesters outside the County-City Building are worried about federal funding cuts to Planned Parenthood.
"It has no effect on me personally, but I'm concerned about other people," said Christine Rutherford of South Bend.
They're also worried about the loss of services to under-served areas and people in need.
"Think about the majority of people in South Bend who don't have jobs right now, who are in school trying to further themselves to get a job," said Noel Spring.
The Planned Parenthood of Indiana would lose about $3 million in federal money. There are eight sites in Indiana that use federal grant funds. One site is in our area, located in Elkhart.
The most up-to-date numbers we received from Planned Parenthood of Indiana showed 91,000 patients served a year, with 61 percent of those patients at or below poverty level.
"Any time there is money lost or taken away from organizations that really are trying to protect our youth and adult population, I think it's a sad state of affairs right there," Lute said.
No counter-protesters were visible outside the County-City Building, but according to Tom Gill, president of the St. Joseph County Right to Life Board: "The bottom line is that no taxpayer should be forced to pay for abortion, the only government-supported act that deliberately kills innocent human beings."
Betty Cockrum, president of the Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said the Hyde Amendment does not allow federal funding for abortions. Donations to the organization fund abortion services.
Gill refutes that in a statement that can be read here.
This debate is far from over.
Spring said she will attend Planned Parenthood's rally on March 8 in Indianapolis with her friend Dean Heintzelman.
"It's silly for us to try and cut something so important as Planned Parenthood's budget," said Heintzelman. "Contraception is something that needs to be available to people of low incomes. If not, all you are supporting is a new generation of welfare."