Planned Parenthood—America's leading abortion provider—celebrated its 100th anniversary Sunday (Oct. 16) with praise from the current president, as well as the front-runner to be the next president, and protest from pro-life advocates.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America observed its centennial with an event at the City Hall of New York and the launch of #100YearsStrong, a year-long celebration marked by more than 150 community events around the world.
Inaugurated when eugenicist Margaret Sanger opened a Brooklyn birth control clinic in 1916, Planned Parenthood took the lead in the abortion business in this country when a New York affiliate began performing the procedures in 1970. New York legalized abortion that year, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on the procedure.
Now, PPFA's affiliates perform more than 320,000 abortions a year at the same time the organization and its affiliates receive about $550 million annually in government grants and reimbursements. Various scandals have plagued Planned Parenthood in the past decade or more, most recently when undercover videos in 2015 provided evidence that it trades in body parts from aborted babies.
While President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton applauded Planned Parenthood's anniversary, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said it "should be an occasion for the church to grieve."
"For a century, Planned Parenthood has been a force for the culture of death, beginning with its start as a racist, social Darwinist institution," said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "It has been exposed even further in recent years as a trafficker of human bodies for financial gain.
"Though the pro-life movement has made some remarkable gains, this landmark for the abortion lobby's biggest institution is a reminder of how far we still have to go for human dignity," he told Baptist Press in written comments.
Obama and Clinton offered congratulations to PPFA online.
"For a century," Obama tweeted Oct. 16, "Planned Parenthood has made it possible for women to determine their own lives. Here's to another #100YearsStrong."
On a video released by her campaign the same day, Clinton said, "Planned Parenthood, congratulations on your first 100 years. And here's to 100 more."
Clinton—who supports abortion rights and government funding of the procedures—received PPFA's Margaret Sanger Award in 2009, when she was secretary of state. Planned Parenthood gives the award for "leadership, excellence and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement."
She also said of the Republican presidential ticket Oct. 16 on Twitter, "When Trump and Pence attack Planned Parenthood, they're attacking millions of Americans."
Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have said their administration would seek to prohibit federal funds for PPFA.
A coalition of pro-life organizations has launched its own campaign—#100YearsOfAbuse—to counter Planned Parenthood's celebration and to publicize the abortion-rights organization's practices.
Planned Parenthood's anniversary is "a tragic milestone for our nation and a reminder of the millions of unborn children who will never have a birthday," the coalition said in a written statement. "We mourn these children, as well as the women who have been hurt and exploited by the nation's largest abortion chain."
Among the members of the coalition are Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council, March for Life, Students for Life of America and Susan B. Anthony List.
The latest campaign by 40 Days for Life—a nationwide, and international, pro-life outreach—includes a major presence at Planned Parenthood facilities. More than 140 of the 40 Days prayer vigils are being held in front of PPFA centers.
Cecile Richards, PPFA's president, said her organization is "just getting started."
"We will build on our proud legacy and launch our second century with as much passion, courage and conviction as our first," she said in a written release from Planned Parenthood, which has more than 650 centers in the United States.
Congress approved legislation less than a year ago that would have eliminated about 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's federal funding, but Obama vetoed the bill in January. A House attempt to over-ride the veto fell far short of the two-thirds majority required.
That congressional effort followed the release of secretly recorded videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children, as well as their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve organs for sale and use.
A special panel in the House of Representatives is investigating Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue procurement businesses to determine if a federal law regulating the storage and transportation of such tissue has been violated. The panel is to issue a report by the end of the year.
Other undercover investigations by pro-life organizations in the past several years have shown Planned Parenthood employees demonstrating a willingness to aid self-professed sex traffickers whose prostitutes supposedly were in their early teens, seeking to conceal alleged child sex abuse and agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.