By Mark Weyermuller -
This past Tuesday, the University of Chicago Law School hosted a lecture by Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. It was co-sponsored by the school's Study of Gender and Sexuality. The event was part of the Ulysses and Marguerite Schwartz Memorial lecture series. It was free and open to the public, with about 350 attending. It appeared to be mostly students with a small group of journalists.
This from news release from the University of Chicago: "In 2016, the Supreme Court affirmed the right to safe and legal abortion. Planned Parenthood celebrated 100 years and the presidential election placed women's rights and autonomy front and center. In this lecture, Cecile Richards will discuss what 2016 meant for reproductive rights, and what 2017 has in store."
The Pro Life Action League had a protest just outside the venue with about 15 people including signs which read, "Cecile Richards: What about his future?" Those signs were next to large poster photos of an aborted baby boy.
Upon my arrival, I interviewed a few people outside and took some photographs. I spoke to Joe and Eric Scheider to get an update on their protest plan outside. They were told that they would not be permitted inside. As a clarification once I was inside, I was told that anybody was allowed in but no signs were permitted inside the lecture hall. So this remains unclear if certain people were banned from attending.
After witnessing people going into the building passed security without any intervention, I attempted to enter. I was stopped by a armed security guard who stood in front of the door and asked where I was going. I responded that I was going to the lecture and understood it was open to the public. Keep in mind, the guards had just seen me talking to the protesters. They asked, "Are you with them?"
At this point, feeling intimidated, I decided to say I was a freelance journalist. I was escorted to a media check in. I was allowed in by a media coordination person who explained some "ground rules." I was told I could not video tape and was not allowed to ask a question during Q & A. They explained they did not want a poor quality video posted on the Internet as they would be taping professional. People tape all the time nowadays except at say a "closed press event." This was not closed press as journalists were present. This all seems highly unusual for me, as I attend events almost daily including many at the Institute of Politics here at the University. Usually they just give me the name of a check in person and have a seat. I can understand why they were on edge. Richards did have several bodyguards, along with security and university staff scattered around the room. I wanted to sit in the back row but was assigned a seat in a media section.
There is some irony as I was just at DePaul University a couple weeks ago which had heavy security. They had over 35 security guards to keep a guest lecturer out. Read about it in this Illinois Review story.
So back on topic, Richards spoke for about 30 minutes then took several questions from the audience. She used the term "reproductive rights" at least ten times. There was no mention of David Daleiden's videos which alleged Planned Parenthood illegally sold baby body parts. I was disappointed that the event was not "Livestreamed" or at least placed on YouTube that evening. This is the trend for most of these types of lectures. Facebook LIVE is the newest way to get your message out.
Most of the audience questions involved praise for Planned Parenthood along with questions of surviving under a Donald Trump administration. Perhaps the most interesting question was from a male student who asked Richards something like this: "Do you believe a fetus is a baby the day before it is born or just after it is born?" Richards seemed stunned by the question and said she didn't quite understand it. She went on to talk about women's access to healthcare along with mammograms and cancer screenings. The gentleman did not follow up with a question. I am curious to the answer as she appeared to dodge the question. It will be interesting if this is edited out of the video. There were professional videographers taping the event. I was told it would be available at a later date.
The Pro-Life Action League put out their own points titled: What is Cecile Richards' vision for the future?
1) Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion clinic, responsible for deaths of over 320,000 unborn children every single year—nearly one third of all abortions performed in the United States.
2) Last year, Planned Parenthood officials were caught on tape by undercover investigators negotiating prices for body parts harvested from unborn children aborted at their centers.
3) Planned Parenthood claims that poor women depend on them for basic healthcare, but they provided services to fewer and fewer services women each year—except for abortion. Even though national abortion rates are dropping, Planned Parenthood's abortion numbers keep going up.
4) Planned Parenthood is trying to force taxpayers to pay for abortions by overturning the Hyde Amendment, a bipartisan measure with broad public support that bans taxpayer funding of abortion.
In addition, Eric Scheider from the Pro-Life Action League had this statement: "Donald Trump is making good on his promises to the pro-life movement with the appointment of Representative Tom Price to head HHS secretary putting to an end to Obamacare's attacks on religious freedom and the sanctity of life."
All in all it was interesting lecture along with the protest outside. It is interesting that the University of Chicago Law School is sponsoring this event. In fairness will they allow somebody like Joe Scheidler from the Pro-Life Action League speak on campus this semester in a similar venue? Has an invitation been extended?
I welcome the debate, especially on when does life begin. The discussion today was on "reproductive rights," yet there was no discussion of any rights of the unborn. Does the unborn have any rights?
The National March for Life is Friday, January 15, 2017 in Washington D.C. The Illinois March for Life is Sunday, January 25, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. starting at the Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago.
Mark Weyermuller is a small business person, real estate professional, and conservative activist in Chicago. He is a citizen journalist and regular contributor to Illinois Review. Mark can be heard weekly on the radio in a "man on the street segment" at 10:31pm as a regular guest on the Stephanie Trussell Show heard Sunday nights 9pm-midnight on WLS 890-AM.
Correction: Chicago March for life is January 15, 2017, not the 25
The national March for Life will be Friday, January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC