It could be a coincidence, but probably not.
Hundreds of folks flooded a Michigan county board meeting Tuesday to demand officials shutter a Planned Parenthood facility in the wake of the eye-opening documentary Unplanned, which is currently playing in several local theaters.
The line to speak at the meeting streamed out of the building and down the sidewalk, and it appeared most who attended were against renewing a lease with Planned Parenthood at a county building in downtown Muskegon. Several toted signs that read “Evict Planned Parenthood” and “Women for Reclaiming our Health Department” as commissioners listened to more than four hours of public comments, Fox 17 reports.
Muskegon County Public Health Director Kathy Moore told commissioners the health department desperately needs the space. County officials also cited Planned Parenthood’s low rent and pro-abortion politics.
“We just absolutely need the space,” Moore said. “We have nurses that have complained of unsanitary conditions for them, confidentiality issues, safety issues as well as compliance issues.”
Ultimately, the board of commissioners voted 6-2 to end the county’s lease with Planned Parenthood, which paid only $1,500 a year in rent. The majority of the board are Democrats.
Planned Parenthood now has 90 days to move out, which made Zach Lahring, a Republican elected in 2018 on a campaign to oust Planned Parenthood, “very pleased,” Mlive.com reports.
“The public showed up and spoke and the commissioners voted after listening to people,” he said, adding that local health officials hope to improve on Planned Parenthood’s less than stellar work in the community.
“They’ve left Muskegon County with the third highest STD rates in the state,” Lahring said. “The county will take over that process and Planned Parenthood will move out and perform whatever services they want elsewhere.”
Residents roared with approval after commissioners cast their votes to evict Planned Parenthood, which does not perform abortion services at the Muskegon location. The facility provides referrals, birth control, pregnancy testing, emergency contraceptives, HIV and STD testing, as well as “general women’s, men’s and LGBTQ healthcare services,” Mlive reports.
Regardless, Planned Parenthood’s strong ties to the abortion industry was enough to motivate many in Muskegon to attend the board meeting, where many carried pictures of ultrasounds, and cited abortion statistics and Bible verses to illustrate their opposition.
“I keep hearing about discrimination, and I keep hearing about access to healthcare, but those individuals who were aborted did not get that,” one commenter told the board, according to Fox 17.
Jim Norton, vice president of development for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, attended the meeting and complained about politics playing into the decision to show his organization the door.
“There is no question it was political. I mean, let’s look at the facts. I mean, we got a council member that ran on a platform that he wanted to close Planned Parenthood. Period, full stop. That’s what he ran on,” Norton said. “Now we’re going to ask if this is political?”
“Clearly it’s not about the facts it’s about the politics of it,” he said.
Norton may not be wrong.
The wildly popular pro-life film “Unplanned” is currently showing in most of the area’s popular cinemas. The movie details the real-life story of Abby Johnson, the youngest clinic director in the history of Planned Parenthood until a life-changing experience turned her into a fierce anti-abortion advocate.
The movie faced discrimination with an ‘R’ rating and problems advertising on social media in the lead-up to it’s debut, which has only helped to fuel interest in the film and momentum to end public funding for an organization that’s responsible for an estimated 60 million abortions since 1973.
The need for the government to distance itself from Planned Parenthood was a re-emerging theme discussed Muskegon, where many take offense to the “controversial” and partisan private organization.
“I don’t see why this meeting is even necessary,” Rev. Bill Randall told Mlive. “You have the responsibility for the use of our building and our tax dollars. I’m opposed to Planned Parenthood using county property and confusing people that this agency is somehow connected with our county health department.”
The health director, Kathy Moore, said the county will continue to offer its own family planning services, and will use the space currently occupied by Planned Parenthood to create more private rooms and larger workstations for nurses to expand STD and HIV services.
Norton said Planned Parenthood has no plans to open in a different location.