This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A group of protesters from the Utah Eagle Forum staged a prayer vigil outside the state's Planned Parenthood offices, asking for God's guidance in their bid to stop federal funding of the agency.
The demonstrations were part of a chain of national events outside Planned Parenthood offices across the country, aimed at drawing attention to undercover videos that abortion opponents claim show Planned Parenthood workers advising pimps on how to get abortions for teenage girls.
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, said the purpose was to "go to Planned Parenthood with a group, hold up signs and pray for God's hand to have something done about Planned Parenthood."
The protest comes as House Republicans are working to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood about $317 million in Title X funds nationally.
But Melissa Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Council, said the video claims are bogus and the effort to strip federal funds is potentially devastating to low-income health care.
The videos were edited and manipulated to distort the facts, and federal authorities were notified when the undercover stings took place, according to Planned Parenthood.
But Bird said she is concerned about the targeting of the federal funds, which she said enables the organization to provide a range of services including providing birth control, conducting 28,000 chlamydia and gonorrhea tests, and 9,000 HIV/AIDS tests to 43,460 clients a year.
She said Planned Parenthood ran more HIV tests than the AIDS Foundation and is the only testing provider in southern Utah.
Planned Parenthood in Utah began conducting abortions at one clinic last fall and has performed fewer than 50 of the procedures, she said.
Bird said $2 million of the Utah organization's $7 million budget comes from the federal Title X money, with the rest coming from gifts and grants.
Ruzicka said if Utah Planned Parenthood wants to distance itself from the actions of the national organization, it should sever ties and form a new group. Until then, she said, parents need to know about the group.
"We want people to wake up to the fact that they don't have the best interest of children at heart at all," Ruzicka said.