Kaua‘i Right to Life demonstrates at clinic

LIHU‘E — A coalition of Christian organizations called Kaua‘i Right to Life is demonstrating for the rights of the unborn each Friday in front of the Malama Pono Health Center in Lihu‘e.

The group formed 12 years ago to end abortion, but today is protesting the presence of Planned Parenthood of Hawai‘i.

Planned Parenthood has provided confidential reproductive health care, education and advocacy at the clinic since February.

The Rev. René Bisaillon, a retired Catholic priest, said Kaua‘i Right to Life is working to help prevent the loss of babies through abortions.

“We have got to save those babies,” Bisaillon said. “They only have one chance to live. It’s horrible the way they die. People have the right to choose, but we choose life!”

Bisaillon said the group also wants to reach the people who make that choice, and the medical staff who carry it out — because both patients and doctors have reached out to him later with guilt and remorse.

Katie Polidoro, director of public affairs and government relations for Planned Parenthood of Hawai‘i, said the Kaua‘i clinic had closed in the 1990s and returned with limited services at the request of clinics and partners that saw a gap existed in reproductive health counseling and education.

A registered nurse practitioner and a health care assistant are available for clients on a walk-in basis. Planned Parenthood of Hawai‘i hopes to soon offer more services at some point in the future.

Planned Parenthood would not be on Kaua‘i without the request from community partners, Polidoro said.  

The clinic is there for referrals, but the staff provides contraception and birth control options, as well as pregnancy testing and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

The 45-year-old Planned Parenthood of Hawai‘i operates Family Planning health centers on O‘ahu, the Big Island and Maui.

The clinics receive basic preventative health care reimbursements from federal Title IX programs that cover 70 percent of patients who are low-income, uninsured and under-insured men and women.

The Kaua‘i clinic runs mostly on private funds from donors, Polidoro said.

There are limited services and referrals are made wherever it would be most cost-effective for the patient for breast and cervical cancer exams, access to birth control and family planning.

The demonstrators — who also gather in front of Wilcox Memorial Hospital on the first Monday of each month — argue that abstinence is not part of the conversation on prevention and awareness.

Planned Parenthood said that it is, but that information and resources on the hazards of unwanted pregnancies and disease must be there for those that choose to be active.

“It is about access to quality and affordable sexual reproduction and health care information,” Polidoro said. “It is about giving the tools to make healthy decisions for yourself.”

Planned Parenthood’s safe sex education and counseling for reproductive life planning is what prompted the protests, according to the demonstrators.

People need to make sure organizations that support the choice to carry a baby to term, whether to give up for adoption or to keep, are included in health information consultations, said Lillian Lucas, a former nurse and president of Kaua‘i Right to Life.

Lucas said there should be more access for counselors who want provide information regarding pro-life options as health education in schools and health centers.  

The decision to go to term or to abort a pregnancy is a difficult one and Polidoro said the job of Planned Parenthood is to provide accurate, nonjudgmental information about reproductive and sexual health — and not to judge an individual’s decision.

“We do not encourage one choice or another,” Polidoro said.

The demonstrators also voiced concern about recent news reports on a trend for gender-preference abortions.

Lucas referred to two videos taken at Planned Parenthood clinics, in Maui and Honolulu, where staff are seen allegedly advising a woman how best to procure a sex-selective abortion of a baby girl.

The accusation resulted in legislation drafted and introduced in the state Senate to ban the practice.

“Planned Parenthood is determined to salvage every dollar out of as many abortions as possible, regardless of the reasons,” stated a press release from Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, a youth-led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending what the group terms “the human rights abuse of abortion.”

Rose said the targeting of pre-born girls for late-term, sex selective abortion is a growing problem in the United States. She said it is exacerbated when women are coerced into these often late-term abortions.

Rose said Live Action’s “Gendercide” project has documented Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation’s support for sex-selective abortion at six different clinics in four states and can be viewed at www.ProtectOurGirls.com.

“As the evidence has continued to mount, Planned Parenthood has run out of excuses,” Rose said. “While it claims to support women, the abortion leader refuses to end its participation in this violent and discriminatory practice.”

Polidoro countered that charge.

“As an organization, Planned Parenthood condemns sex selection,” she said.  

Rather than limiting reproductive rights, she said, people should look at the underlining causes of extreme sexism and the bias of having one gender over another.

Hawai‘i ranks 17th among the states in teen pregnancy rates, according to Family Planning.

The organization said surveys note less than half of sexually active teens practice safer sex by using condoms.

Hawai‘i state law allows an individual age 14 years or older the right of consent for family planning and reproductive health care. Anyone under 14 would need consent from a parent or guardian.

Most patients pay for abortions out of pocket or through private heath care, Polidoro said.

Family Planning maintains a small loan deferral fund when a patient doesn’t qualify for state Medicaid assistance.

No federal dollars go to abortion care, she added.

“We have very strict accounting practices to ensure we abide by the law,” Polidoro said.

The law allows abortions for pregnancies that are 20 weeks or less. Planned Parenthood as outpatient care has the capacity to offer abortions up to 17 weeks.

After 20 weeks, the law requires proof that an abortion would save the life of the mother or some other compelling need. The procedures are then more complex and require anesthesia.

The demonstrators said there is also God’s way, in which faith organizations, care centers and other groups will help provide pre- and postnatal assistance with health care, housing, clothing and infant needs.

“This is about prayer and action,” said Lucas. “And we have God on our side.”

For more information about Kaua‘i Right to Life and its list of resources available to women who consider taking a baby to term, call Lillian Lucas at 822-0320.

For more information on Planned Parenthood, go to www.pphi.org.

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