Several pro-life groups came together in front of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday to hear Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson and others call for defunding Planned Parenthood.
The pro-life group Students for Life organized the "Women Betrayed" rally in the District of Columbia and 65 other locations across the country.
Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told the crowd, "We want President Obama to decide whether or not he will support the barbaric practice of dismembering human beings and selling their parts piece by piece." Hawkins was especially fired up about a video released Tuesday showing medical staff picking apart fetal body parts. "This was the Emmett Till photo of the pro-life movement," she said.
Not all of the speakers have always been pro-life. Today, Andrea Pearson is a mother of two children and a pro-life activist. But she underwent three abortions at Planned Parenthood facilities. "There was this overwhelming feeling in my heart that this didn't feel right but I was told that this was a good and healthy choice," Pearson told the crowd.
To share her experience with abortion, she joined Silent No More Campaign and speaks at other pro-life rallies, including the March for Life. Her daughter, Madeline Pearson, also spoke about starting a pro-life group at her high school to ensure that "we will be the generation to end abortion."
Capitol Police barred pro-abortion rights supporters from protesting the rally, although a few of them chanted from across the street. The group scattered after a while, but one protester remained past the rally's conclusion, holding a sign reading "Fund stem cell research, Fund Planned Parenthood" on one side, and "Don't Leave Me Hanging" with a wire hanger attached on the other side.
"I just want to remind people that there is the better side out there, taking care of humanity," he told the Washington Examiner. "Today has been a very great attempt to brainwash women and believing that the services provided by Planned Parenthood are somehow criminal or somehow amoral."
Regarding the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, he said, "I think it's not fair to the people living below the poverty line, because that's something they rely on, and especially empowering women." He waded into the crowd several times during the rally before police asked him to step away.
But most attendees were firm in their pro-life convictions. "It's a near and dear subject to our hearts because we feel that every life should have a choice to be here," Rita Hendrickson, told the Examiner. "I could have been an aborted baby because I was unwanted."
Estrella Flores from the pro-life American Life League, told the Examiner, "We came up here because we know that young people are especially effective when people see them." Regarding the speakers, Flores said, "It was wonderful that they had the courage to go up and share their stories and what they believe in."
Chris Slattery brought a group from Expectant Mother Care, a network of pregnancy care centers in New York City. Since one EMC center shares a building with Planned Parenthood, he often confronts the abortion organization. "They've been on my radar for 35 years, and I've made my work to try and put them out of business by preaching and teaching the truth to mothers directly in our pregnancy centers," Slattery told the Examiner.
Emily Leayman is an intern at the Washington Examiner