This story has been updated.
The Six Rivers Planned Parenthood of Eureka, California, has been advertising a prayer campaign that may cause some head-scratching among religious individuals who stand opposed to abortion.
The initiative, "40 Days of Prayer: Supporting Women Everywhere," provides 40 different prayers that can be offered up in support of abortion rights.
The invocations were originated by a group called Faith Aloud and were written by Rev. Rebecca Turner, the organization's executive director. For years, they have been used by independent abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood (here's a past press release that further explains the initiative). Now, it seems the local, California-based Planned Parenthood office is also taking part in the effort.
The conservative Liberty Council, a legal and education non-profit, claims that the prayers in the Six Rivers leaflet include consideration for "the mothers, the escorts, the abortionists," but that there are no mentions of the unborn children. The local version of the campaign is being supported by a group called Clergy for Choice, which describes itself as follows:
We are religious leaders who value all human life. We accept that religions differ about when life begins. We are here to help.
We believe that human life is holy. That's why we believe in your right to choose to be a parent or not.
In a brochure published on the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood web site, some extremely controversial prayers are touted. On Day 4, the clergy encourage people to give thanks "for the doctors who provide quality abortion care" and on Day 5, they encourage prayer "for medical students who want to include abortion care in their practice."
Liberty Council is less than pleased with the group's intentions and, in a press release, goes on to compare its tactics to those used by Nazi Germany:
The concerted effort of this group to dehumanize children based on their age is similar to a tactic once used in Nazi Germany towards the Jews and other non-Arians: first ostracize them from the rest of society, and then annihilate them. Planned Parenthood’s attempts to develop a “spiritual” aspect to the pro-abortion argument can seem comparable to the religious leaders in Germany who supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.
The group goes on to call Planned Parenthood's involvement in the "40 Days of Prayer" a "desperate attempt to regain positive attention and funding."
Additionally, Liberty Council accuses the abortion provider (and, more broadly, by default, the campaign's creator -- Faith Aloud) of mimicking and mocking a Christian group that works to prevent abortion called "40 Days for Life." Often times the group, which claims to have already saved 804 babies this year, targets Planned Parenthood locations with protest activities. There is also another anti-abortion initiative called "40 Days to Save America," which was created by Vision America.
"Planned Parenthood’s ‘prayer’ campaign is offensive," proclaims Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "As much as they might not like the comparison, Planned Parenthood today is no different than the eugenics promoted by its founder Margaret Sanger who advocated the elimination of ‘undesirables,’ just like the most famous eugenicist, Adolf Hitler."
The prayers are intended to be uttered between March 18 and April 27 (here's the PDF of the entire brochure). Planned Parenthood, via its web site, even offers to connect women to clergy to discuss questions and concerns.