Pro-Life Champions

Jim Sedlak: Taking the Fight to Planned Parenthood’s Doorstep

Planned Parenthood is an organization that generates its profits by killing the innocent—people who have no voice or power to defend themselves. Enter Jim Sedlak, co-founder and executive director of American Life League’s STOPP International, the country’s only national organization solely dedicated to ending Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion reign of terror. Keep reading for the latest from this veteran pro-life leader.

You worked for IBM as a physicist, so what brought you to American Life League?

My interest in science led me to the pro-life movement. In 1979, I read a book called Tiniest Humans, concerning Dr. Lejuene, Professor Riley and their patients in the womb. That book was published by American Life League.

In 1985, I helped begin STOPP, which stands for “Stop Planned Parenthood,” and the first national pro-life leader I heard from was Judie Brown. She told us she’d do anything she could to help us. From that time on, I had a relationship with American Life League.

In 1993, I retired from IBM and devoted myself full-time to STOPP. In 1998, STOPP merged with American Life League.

Where is Planned Parenthood the strongest?

Planned Parenthood has the most presence—and also the most clinics—in four states—California, New York, Texas and Florida. A probable runner-up is Wisconsin. In California, they pretty much control the legislature. They’re also in good control of New York’s legislature, but in other states, they don’t wield this kind of influence.

Pro-lifers have been fighting hard in Texas to keep Planned Parenthood out of their communities. Has this been a fertile ground for STOPP’s strategies?

Yes. In fact, one of our most successful fights has been in North Texas around the Amarillo area.  In 1997, Planned Parenthood operated 19 clinics there. Today, they have only three clinics left of the original 19.

Houston is also a big area of contention. Planned Parenthood of Houston runs an abortion facility in Bryan, Texas, and the prolife activity there has been so intense that the former president of Planned Parenthood, Gloria Feldt, called it “the most antichoice place in the nation.” [Laughs] It’s also the hometown of David Bereit, STOPP’s new national director.

What are the main ways Planned Parenthood tries to push its pro-abortion agenda?

Planned Parenthood pushes its agenda primarily through sex education. As far back as 1973, Alan Guttmacher, who was head of PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America) at the time, said they would secure the right to abortion through sex education. They want to convert young people to their way of thinking. In addition, Planned Parenthood is very active in the courts, trying to force their agenda by finding friendly judges who will rule in their favor.

What are the easiest ways to fight Planned Parenthood?

The most basic ways are to keep Planned Parenthood away from your children and away from your money, and there are three tactics pro-lifers can always use to fight Planned Parenthod in the community.

First, be a visible public presence in front of the local Planned Parenthood facility at least once a week. Along with this, show up every time they have a fundraising dinner or other event.

Then, get Planned Parenthood out of the schools, the Girl Scouts, the [local] 4-H Club and your Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. Any place young girls are, that’s where Planned Parenthood wants to be.

Lastly, pro-lifers must work especially to cut local money to Planned Parenthood, and then, if there’s enough local money stopped, this effort can be raised to the state level. Eventually, we want to raise it up to the federal level.

Every fight against Planned Parenthood is a local fight. If we can bring it down to a local fight, we negate their millions of dollars, because we have as much influence among the school board members, city council members and county supervisors as they do. When prolifers fight for legitimate rights, Planned Parenthood’s millions of dollars do them no good.

Where does Planned Parenthood get the core of their funding?

You can divide their funding roughly into thirds. One third of their money comes from clinic fees charged to their customers—they don’t do things for free. Last year they took in a little over $300 million “consumer” dollars. The second third is taken from taxpayers at federal, state or local levels. Last year, they got $265 million in taxpayer dollars. The last third comes from donations by corporations, foundations and individuals, which accounted for just under $200 million last year.

Tell us about Planned Parenthood’s international Federation (IPPF).

It was started in 1952 and it’s headquartered in London, England. They have affiliates in—and the number keeps changing—approximately 150 countries around the world. In most cases, they’re not called Planned Parenthood. For example, in China it’s the China Family Planning Association. Family Planning Association is a name they use in a lot of places.

IPPF is very big and receives oodles of money from the United Nations. Wherever the UN runs family planning and population control programs, it’s really an outreach of Planned Parenthood.

Do all IPPF affiliates publicly sponsor abortion?

The only Planned Parenthood affiliate to openly admit to doing abortions is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The rest of the affiliates around the world do not admit to performing abortions. It’s not that they don’t do them, it’s just that they don’t admit to them. In many countries, instead of doing abortions, they do what are called “menstrual regulation procedures.” That means when a woman comes in and says, “I haven’t had my period for three months,” Planned Parenthood will say, “You need a menstrual regulation procedure.” Planned Parenthood won’t do a pregnancy test, so they can say they didn’t know the girl was pregnant. Then they go in and scrape out the uterus and kill the baby. That’s an abortion.

How does Planned Parenthood characterize itself in the media?

They like to portray themselves as an organization that is simply trying to provide health care to poor women. Planned Parenthood says poor women wouldn’t have health care if they weren’t in neighborhoods and towns across America. That’s also their line to get government money.

When they’re opposed, they try to say they’re being unfairly attacked, and that those attacking them don’t really understand what Planned Parenthood does. They always argue that rich women can get abortions, but without Planned Parenthood poor women can’t. They defend the killing of babies as something that’s necessary to protecting the livelihood of poor women.

Tell us about their book Sacred Work, written by Tom Davis, head of Planned Parenthood’s clergy committee.

Basically, it’s an attempt to portray Planned Parenthood as doing the work of God. [Smiles]. Davis defines sacred work as work for social justice, and he believes that it is social justice for Planned Parenthood to provide reproductive services to poor women. He characterizes the abortion controversy as having nothing to do with abortion. He says that the pro-life mission is just an attempt to put women in their place.

This is really an outlandish work. He clearly identifies Planned Parenthood as a secular humanist organization. That means they follow the tenets of the Humanist Manifestos, which are fundamentally anti-God and anti-religion.

One of the philosophies of the Humanist Manifestos is that it’s up to each person to decide what’s right or wrong. When it first came out in 1973, this was “situation ethics.” Davis actually claims that Jesus was in favor of situation ethics. I guess he doesn’t feel Jesus supports the Ten Commandments.

The book’s primary thesis is that there is no objective right and wrong. So as long as you’re providing abortion and birth control to poor women, you’re trying to love your neighbor, and that’s doing sacred work.

Planned Parenthood recently added STOPP to the “Terrorists and Extremist Organizations” section of their web site. What do you make of that?

We now have two listings, one as American Life League and one as STOPP International.

I think it’s recognition that over the last few years STOPP has become more active and more of a presence around the country. I think Planned Parenthood’s national office has been receiving more questions from their affiliates about who STOPP is and what we do. And so they added us to their web site as a separate entry to give their affiliates some background. It’s recognition that STOPP is making an impact.

Where do you see the effort to shut down Planned Parenthood going in the next 15 to 20 years?

Planned Parenthood has closed down over 100 clinics since 1995. I think that’s evidence they’re losing the battle with the general public. I think they’re losing the battle for young people. Every year Planned Parenthood loses 46 percent of its customers in general turnover, so they always have to find more.

I also think as more communities start fighting Planned Parenthood and more states cut their funding, they will feel it. Right now, Missouri, Colorado, North Dakota, Mississippi, Texas and Ohio don’t give any state money to Planned Parenthood. And this is just the beginning. We plan on closing all their doors.

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About the author

Nicholas Marmalejo

Nicholas Marmalejo is a former editor of Celebrate Life Magazine.