The loss of human persons in abortion can never be fully comprehended. But one pro-life group is breaking down the numbers of those missing in America due to Planned Parenthood – with baby socks, no less.
On Wednesday, pro-life leaders and students called on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood by placing a powerful, visual message on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol: a pile of 196,543 pairs of baby socks. The sock mountain represented only half the number of abortions that media-darling Planned Parenthood commits per year. But the #SockIt2PP campaign, sponsored by Students for Life of America (SFLA), aims to collect nearly 324,0000 in order to show the price of inaction as government officials plan the federal budget.
The sight mirrored the piles of shoes stripped from Holocaust victims, as former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life activist Sue Thayer suggested at the rally. Besides Thayer, many others spoke at the podium and in exclusive interview with MRC Culture.
Opening the event, SFLA President Kristan Hawkins reminded pro-life advocates that they represent the majority of our generation, or “the generation that rejects the idea that a woman must end a life of her child in order to achieve the life that she’s always dreamed of.”
“We reject the violence of abortion,” she stressed, “and we reject the lies and the betrayal by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry that they lead.”
Gesturing to the socks, Hawkins noted the somber nature of the visual. “This is the result of our inaction,” she declared. “Each and every one of these laundry baskets represent 888 children that will die today” at the hand of Planned Parenthood.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) also weighed in from the podium.
“We need to have images like this so that people start to reflect on the magnitude of this suffering that’s happening out there,” he urged. “This movement is not primarily about power, it’s about celebrating human dignity and talking about the gift of life.”
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Americans wouldn’t know that from the liberal media. Instead of highlighting human dignity in their abortion coverage, they frequently paint pro-life or “anti-abortion” and “anti-choice” activists as misogynists, power-grabbers or religious extremists.
In a conversation with MRC Culture, Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), who briefly stopped by the rally, used his personal story of adoption to combat the media spin.
“We can’t expect media to cover it on an unbiased basis,” he observed. “Despite what they say, in terms of their mission, [Planned Parenthood] is an abortion factory.”
But for Mitchell, every life is “precious,” especially because he and his wife had fertility issues. “We adopted a younger son from Russia five years ago,” he explained. “The idea that people consider [babies] expendable is disgusting.”
“We know what science shows,” Alison Howard, director of alliance relations at Alliance Defending Freedom, said from the podium, “that there is life in the womb.”
Former Planned Parenthood director Sue Thayer, former congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Americans United for Life staff counsel Deanna Wallace and several student activists also gave remarks.
Among the latter, high school student Maddi Runkle moved the audience with the story of her unexpected pregnancy and subsequent resolve to keep her child. Now involved in the pro-life movement, Runkle stressed that Planned Parenthood did not liberate women.
“They are all about ‘women’s rights,’” she explained, “but I can’t think of anything that is less empowering than telling a woman that she can’t do it.”
She added, “I look at all these socks, and that could have been my baby. But I choose to let my baby wear these socks.”
Following the rally, the group headed to Speaker Paul Ryan’s office with 100 baskets, each containing 888 pairs of socks, to symbolize the first one hundred days of the Trump administration — and the number of children that have been aborted since the president took office. Their message? “Stop the petty infighting and keep the promise to defund Planned Parenthood.”
When MRC Culture asked Hawkins about media coverage of the pro-life movement’s call to defund Planned Parenthood, Hawkins stressed that the “top-line messaging” was that “Planned Parenthood betrays women.”
She pointed to the thousands of federally qualified healthcare centers that “provide way more services than Planned Parenthood for free” to conclude, “We don’t need Planned Parenthood.”
According to Planned Parenthood’s most recently published annual report, the organization performed 323,999 abortions and received $553.7 million in “government health services grants and reimbursements” for the year 2014 – 2015.