Personhood Florida leader defends movement in op-ed

Posted on March 26, 2012


The Florida Independent, March 26, 2012 by Virgina Chamlee

The leader of Personhood Florida, the group that wants the Sunshine State to outlaw abortion by defining life as beginning at the moment of conception, recently penned an op-ed targeting Planned Parenthood — claiming the group “fears the thought of what will happen if women learn the truth about the development of the baby inside of them and the results of abortion.” A Planned Parenthood rep disputes those claims, arguing that personhood proponents are the ones endangering women.

In his op-ed, which was published in TCPalm last week, Personhood Florida’s Bryan Longworth wrote that Planned Parenthood fears anti-abortion measures like the ultrasound bill, which require that women seeking abortions receive ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. According to Longworth, those ultrasounds will lead women to the truth — that their fetuses are more fully formed than they originally thought. Planned Parenthood, wrote Longworth, fears the effect ”this truth will have on their profitable abortion business.”

“The fact is: They fear the thought of women, armed with truth, making informed choices, so they sound the alarm, rally the troops, and fight for their right to deceive women,” he wrote.

In a statement made to The Florida Independent, Judith Selzer, the vice president of public policy and communications at Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast, defends her organization’s goals, arguing that Planned Parenthood is currently the sole health care provider for tens of thousands of Florida women who otherwise would have very limited access to care.

“The truth is that Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider of a full-range of women’s reproductive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS testing, birth control and abortion care,” writes Selzer. “At a time when nearly two million Florida women are uninsured and as many are in need of contraceptive services and products, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider for tens-of thousands of women in Florida.”

Selzer writes that Longworth’s claims are dangerous and they could potentially endanger the lives of women. Proponents of personhood measures have been harshly criticized for their support of a bill that some say could lead to a ban on birth control, in vitro fertilization procedures and even certain types of medical research.

“Proponents of so-called fetal personhood laws are the ones who are giving out bad information – and potentially endangering women’s health and lives,” Selzer writes. “Fetal personhood laws are extreme measures that could force a woman to carry a pregnancy even if her life is in danger. A woman battling cancer might not have access to the treatment to save her own life. Such a law could ban common forms of contraception, such as the birth control pill and IUDs, making it harder for women and their families to plan their families and causing even more unintended pregnancies.”

“The best way to reduce abortions is to increase access to birth control and sexual health information and education,” writes Selzer. “That is exactly what Planned Parenthood does and we invite those who oppose abortion to join us in those efforts.”

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Posted in: Florida