Human Rights

Longtime pro-choice activist troubled by Planned Parenthood videos

Bunnie Riedel is a pro-choice activist who served as founding executive director of the Southern California Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights from 1989 to 1994. Twenty years ago, she wrote the foreword for the pro-abortion book Abortion: My Choice, God’s Grace. This book justifies abortion by telling the stories of Christian women who chose to abort their babies. It uses arguments based on the Bible to “prove” that abortion is moral. Here is one excerpt from the book written by Anne Eggebroten:

Usually, the news of beginning pregnancy is a time of celebration, but when it is not, a safe and legal way of ending the pregnancy should be available. Jesus can speak to the zygote or even fertilized egg, bless it, and call it back to God’s presence. (1)

And another by Eggebroten:

To establish laws against abortion might prove partially effective in reducing their numbers, but it would be the way of pride, not the way of servant hood and humility. The message would be, “We are righteous. You who disobey our law are sinners.” This kind of self-righteousness is pharisaical, a condemnation that excuses us from getting involved in actually helping a pregnant woman or her baby. Jesus’ approach would be servant hood.

The well-known male activists with their dramatic campaigns to “stop abortion” are behaving like Jesus’ disciples when they argued over who was greatest. Jesus warned against those who sound trumpets in the synagogues and in the streets “that they may be praised by men.” His judgment was, “Truly I say to you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:2). (2)

The other pro-abortion arguments in the book are equally irrational and nonsensical. Abortion: My Choice, God’s Grace  is clearly a pro-abortion book, and Bunnie Riedel is solidly in the pro-abortion camp.

However, even though she is a pro-abortion activist and has been for many years, Riedel seems very troubled by the Planned Parenthood videos. In an article in The Baltimore Sun, she says:

The thing that has many people disturbed, even outraged, on either side of this issue is the seemingly cavalier attitude toward the aborted fetuses by the clinic personnel. They laugh, they make jokes, they appear to haggle over the price of the body parts and they describe making it “less crunchy.” And every woman who has had an abortion is now is wondering “Did they talk like that about my abortion?”

Riedel is put off by the attitude of the clinic workers. Perhaps it is a little too much reality for her – she supports killing these pre-born babies, after all, but feels that it should be done with respect for the gravity of the act. She knows the trauma women go through. Perhaps she also sees some value in the lives of the babies that are being killed – at the very least, she considers their killing to be a grave matter, and something to be taken seriously, not laughed at.

She seems to feel that mocking the bodies of the dead babies and treating their deaths so casually is inappropriate. The fact that the clinic workers have such blatant disregard for life and for the suffering of both the babies and the women is disquieting to her. Riedel seems unaware, however, of the hypocrisy of her position. She is okay with killing the babies, as long as the killing is done with the “proper” mentality. She knows that abortion harms women, and that it’s a terrible experience for them, but she supports abortion anyway.

Riedel also has problems with Planned Parenthood’s reaction to the videos. She says:

It is disturbing that Planned Parenthood would make statements about investigating the filmmakers as their first response. Wouldn’t it have been better to say you don’t expect Planned Parenthood personnel to conduct themselves in this way and you would certainly look into it? Perhaps to acknowledge that abortion is a difficult but often necessary procedure, and we respect the women who find they have to make that decision and we meant no disrespect? And we will issue new guidelines for exactly what costs can be recovered in harvesting the fetal tissue for research so that we remain firmly within the law?

Yet Riedel is not prepared to abandon her support for Planned Parenthood, even though she is troubled by the reactions of the clinic workers, the reality of fetal parts being sold, and Planned Parenthood’s response to the videos. She says:

Planned Parenthood is a great organization that delivers quality reproductive health care across this country.

She finishes the article by saying:

But in the polarizing abortion debate, they’ve lost this round and they need to issue an apology. That apology should go to the women who’ve had abortions at Planned Parenthood on behalf of abortion providers everywhere. And once done, they should issue layoff notices.

One wonders what would stop Riedel from supporting Planned Parenthood. Would anything? Ultimately, though troubled, she gives Planned Parenthood a pass. But her article shows that even long time pro-choice supporters are uncomfortable with the revelations of the videos. How many pro-choicers are beginning to question their blind allegiance to Planned Parenthood?

Obviously, there will be no apologies from Planned Parenthood. There will be no layoffs. Planned Parenthood doesn’t work that way. In all the sting operations showing unprofessional and exploitive behavior on the part of Planned Parenthood, the giant abortion provider has not apologized once. They will always deny, deny, deny, and defend themselves, counting on women like Riedel to blindly support them despite everything.

But the fact that cracks are starting to form in the loyalty pro-choice activists have for Planned Parenthood is a good sign. Perhaps someday pro-choicers will wake up and see that this organization, which they idolize and support, is not worthy of their high regard.


  1. Anne Eggebroten, ed Abortion: My Choice, God’s Grace (Pasadena, California: New Paradigm Books, 1994) 225,
  2. Anne Eggebroten, ed 231 – 232

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