Republicans in Congress have voted eight times to defund Planned Parenthood and set up a special committee to investigate it. But anti-abortion activists are concerned that the GOP is not committed enough to defunding the family planning provider, so they are flying a giant photo of an aborted fetus over downtown Cleveland each day leading up to and during the Republican National Convention to get the party’s attention.
The 50-foot-by-100-foot aerial banner, sponsored by the anti-abortion group Created Equal, will be towed by a plane over downtown Cleveland for three hours each day from July 13 to 21. The banner features a graphic photo of a fetus aborted at 15 weeks of pregnancy and the message “Rescue uNborn Children.”
“Created Equal will increase the presence of these horrifying pictures of abortion leading up to the convention, July 18 through 21,” said Mark Harrington, the group’s leader. “Our goal is to send a strong signal to the RNC to rescue the unborn ― beginning with a commitment to defund Planned Parenthood.”
The draft GOP platform strongly opposes abortion at all stages and the use of public revenues to “fund organizations which perform” abortion. House Republicans have repeatedly voted to strip federal grants from the family planning provider, even though laws are in place to prevent any of that money from being used to pay for abortions. And this year alone, 24 GOP-led state legislatures have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood and similar providers because some of their clinics offer abortion.
But anti-abortion activists are frustrated that Republicans in Congress have not yet managed to defund the organization, and they hate that the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has wavered on abortion and recently expressed support for Planned Parenthood.
Our goal is to send a strong signal to the RNC to rescue the unborn ― beginning with a commitment to defund Planned Parenthood. Mark Harrington, of anti-abortion group Created Equal
Further confusing the issue, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is rumored to be on Trump’s shortlist for running mates, said Sunday that he supports a woman’s right to choose abortion. He quickly walked back his statement on Monday but his comments had already sent anti-abortion groups into a frenzy.
“His pro-abortion position is unacceptable and would undermine the pro-life policy commitments that Mr. Trump has made throughout the campaign,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement.
Harrington said he hopes his aerial fetus banner will put the GOP back on track on the abortion issue. He told The Stream that the banner will also fly over the Democratic National Convention later in July, just because everyone needs to “see the truth.”
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, responded with a statement:
With or without a stunt like this Donald Trump and the Republican Party Leadership have been very clear that a top priority is to prevent patients from getting basic health care at Planned Parenthood, and to ban abortion outright. Donald Trump even said he would shut down the government in order to prevent patients from getting cancer screenings and birth control, and boasted he is the “best chance” to overturn Roe V. Wade. These extremists will stop at nothing ― no matter how many women’s lives they put in danger, and no matter how much the public disagrees with them ― to prevent women from accessing critical reproductive health care.”
This post has been updated with a statement from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.