This past weekend's news from Amarillo, Texas is an answer to prayer, steadfast focus on the evils of Planned Parenthood and commitment to expose the truth about an organization rooted in racist, eugenicist propaganda. The news is that as of the first of the year, Planned Parenthood's chief executive in the Texas Panhandle, Claudia Stravato, announced that the Planned Parenthood office in Amarillo will sever all ties with Planned Parenthood's national office and adopt a new name.
Under the name Texas Panhandle Family Planning and Health Centers, the reorganized group, which says its services will not change, will be dissociated from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which, it claims, is moving away from efforts to "serve the community's poor." Thus, as of January 1, there will be no organizations in the Texas Panhandle bearing the name Planned Parenthood.
This remarkable achievement occurred because for the past 12 years, Stop Planned Parenthood International’s director, Jim Sedlak, has been collaborating with Bishop John Yanta, who recently retired, and his Respect Life coordinator, Rita Diller. But as many know, from the moment Bishop Yanta arrived in the Amarillo diocese, he had one very important goal in mind: taking out Planned Parenthood.
The record of Bishop Yanta's accomplishments would fill a book, but we are proud to be able to give you the highlights, which alone are testimony to unwavering dedication to principle. In October 1998, Respect Life Month, Bishop Yanta wrote a letter to his flock, in which he made the following statement:
Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and promoter of abortion, promotes contraceptives to minors without the parents' knowledge, promotes emergency contraceptives that are used after an act of "unprotected" sex. The International Federation of Planned Parenthood is around the world promoting contraception, sterilization and abortion with millions and millions of American dollars. Helen Alvare, director of Planning and Information, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., states: "So why does Planned Parenthood-with its much vaunted PR message on 'preventing abortion' continue to pursue its condom-in-every-pocket campaign, when, in the United States, decades of hawking condoms and other contraception to teenagers and unmarried adults-via our tax dollars-have coincided with increased premarital sex, increased out-of-wedlock pregnancies, staggering increases in sexually transmitted diseases and skyrocketing abortion rates?"
Unfortunately, there are many Planned Parenthood centers (or Family Planning Centers) located in our Diocese of Amarillo. As your bishop and shepherd, I ask all Catholics not to use their services, not to belong to any of their boards, not to serve as a volunteer and not to be employed there. In resigning your employment there, I will be happy to assist you in finding employment elsewhere so you will not be cooperating in these immoral practices and being a source of scandal both within and outside the Church and community. I make this plea, in love, as my duty to continue the mission of Jesus Christ: to teach, to sanctify and to govern.
Subsequently, according to the timeline that Stop Planned Parenthood International has faithfully kept, in 1999, four Planned Parenthood clinics shut down. Bishop Yanta's constant focus on the evils of Planned Parenthood and his wonderful ability to gently persuade Catholics that they needed to get involved in protesting this organization was already paying off!
In 2000, Stravato said the remaining 15 offices would continue to operate. PP had been hard at work trying to minimize the impact of the closings and to cast them all in an economic light. But STOPP supporters knew that there was much more to these closings. As Rita Diller pointed out,
Bishop Yanta has taken every possible opportunity to speak out against their agenda. The Dimmitt office was a full-time clinic that closed after the director walked out one morning into the midst of those praying the Rosary exclaiming ardently that she would never come back. Some weeks later it re-opened part-time, and now it is closed permanently.
Within a year, five more Planned Parenthood facilities had closed their doors and the rest is, as they say, history.
This story of perseverance continued, and in 2004, Jim Sedlak published a letter from Rita Diller, which said in part,
For quite some time now, Planned Parenthood in Tulia has been dying a slow death. This was a full time facility that cut back its hours dramatically within the past year or so. First it appeared to be shut down completely, then it was open once a month, then once a week. On last night's Channel 10 News, Claudia Stravato, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle, announced that the facility is closed. The cause stated was low patient load and not enough government funding to reimburse Planned Parenthood for their expense at the facility. It was stated on the news report that they were only seeing 2 or 3 patients per week at the facility…
It was stated on the news that this is the 14th closing of a Planned Parenthood facility in the Texas Panhandle. However, in 1997 Planned Parenthood listed 19 facilities on its web page. Today, with the closing of the Tulia facility, only 3 remain: Borger, Dumas and Amarillo.
Local Catholics, including Bishop John W. Yanta, Fr. Fern Couture, and Fr. John Hickey, have kept a prayer vigil at the facility in Tulia for a number of years. It would appear that the people of Tulia have said NO to Planned Parenthood by boycotting their "services." Thanks be to God!
This amazing victory did not happen by accident. It took the brave, unyielding dedication of a great shepherd whose flock, even after he retired, carried on to this very moment when a nail in Planned Parenthood of the Texas Panhandle’s coffin has finally been delivered.
Twelve years of unfailing prayer, activism and education resulted in this incredibly momentous day. We are grateful for the heroism of Bishop John Yanta, who inspired his flock to do the impossible!
And now, it appears that Planned Parenthood in the Texas Panhandle is to be only a memory.
The challenge is now upon every Catholic bishop to do likewise.