Protesters prayed the rosary outside the Planned Parenthood office in Hempstead Saturday during a peaceful demonstration against the group's abortion practices and its sale of fetal tissue in some states, which it denies profiting from.
As part of a nationwide day of protest at Planned Parenthoods across the country -- including others on Long Island in Patchogue, Riverhead, Smithtown and West Islip -- more than 50 anti-abortion advocates gathered outside the center on Fulton Avenue, some holding signs that read "Choose Life" and "No Tax $$ for abortion!"
Inside the high, black metal gates, more than 30 Planned Parenthood supporters stood in a counterprotest, dressed in pink T-shirts and holding signs that read "Women's Health Matters!" and "Don't take away our care."Letter to EditorLetters: Planned Parenthood videos raise questionsLetter to EditorLetter: Planned Parenthood essential to LICommentSubmit your letter
Hayley Bifulco, 22, of West Hempstead, the organizer of the local protest, spoke of the secretly recorded and virally circulated videos from an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, that "show that Planned Parenthood is participating in the selling and trafficking of human body parts and altering the [abortion] process to get intact parts."
"There's children in there that are being pulled apart and women being deceived," Bifulco said.
Planned Parenthood officials charge the videos were unfairly edited and that they are a continuation of the decades-long attack on the organization.
A fetal tissue donation program is not offered in New York, a group official said. It is offered in two states -- California and Washington -- for women who want to help medical research, the official said. The organization said it does not profit from the transactions.
Eric Ferrero, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization, charged in a statement: "These rallies are meant to intimidate and harass our patients."
JoAnn Smith, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, who organized the counterprotest, said it was aimed at supporting the center's patients and staff.
"Anybody who is having a reaction to the smear campaign that's going on is misinformed," Smith said of the videos.