Friday, February 5, 2010

Get Involved! The SECULAR Center’s Response to “Pro-Life”Protests at Planned Parenthood

Last fall, as in previous years, a local “pro-life” group organized a 40-day protest at Planned Parenthood facilities around Houston. Protesters got on their knees and prayed, carried pro-life signs, wore t-shirts with biblical phrases on them, and formed lines along the sidewalks leading to the entrances of the Planned Parenthood centers. These actions made it very difficult for potential clients, who in many cases had to walk through these protesters to enter the building due to the location of parking lots across three streets. These protests can intimidate clients who may or may not be receiving controversial treatments such as abortions and may even result in some clients not receiving the reproductive health care that they can’t get anywhere else.

Abortions are only a small part of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. They also perform wellness checkups, sexually-transmitted disease (STD) tests, free birth control (to those who qualify based on income level), sexual education, vasectomies, and many other much-needed services. Planned Parenthood “seeks a world in which all children are wanted and cared for, all women and men have equal rights and dignity, sexuality is expressed with honesty, equality, and responsibility, and the decision to bear children is private and voluntary.” The mission of Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas is to “ensure the right and ability of all individuals to manage their sexual and reproductive health by providing health services, education, and advocacy.”

From February 17th to March 28th 2010, the same local pro-life group is organizing another 40-day protest to coincide with Lent. In order to support their clients who have to endure this emotional harassment, Planned Parenthood has organized a program in which volunteers escort the clients from parking lots to the entrances of their building. The volunteers do not interact with the protesters; they simply provide a reassuring presence to Planned Parenthood’s clients as they walk to and enter the building.

The SECULAR Center has decided to get involved with the escort program and show that our community supports Planned Parenthood. We are organizing volunteers to be trained to, and escort clients together in groups of three or four, starting on February 20th and continuing on every Saturday and select weekdays throughout the 40-day protest period. If you’d like to get involved, please e-mail us at Additional dates will be announced soon through our e-mailing list. If you haven’t signed up for our e-mailing list, please go to and enter your information in the form on the home page.

The Planned Parenthood escort program is an important way that our community can show its support for reproductive freedom that is unencumbered by religious ideology and dogma. Please consider joining us in our campaign to assist Planned Parenthood during the Lent “Pro-Life“ demonstrations.

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