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Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, speaks at Georgetown University April 19, the night before Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards' talk on campus. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Congresswoman, experts urge Georgetown students to defend life ahead of Cecile Richards’ talk

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Left to right: Georgetown Medical School’s Dr. Marguerite Duane, Dean of Students Dr. Jeanne Lord, Kathleen Eaton Bravo, and Astrid Bennett Gutierrez Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder and CEO of Obria Medical Clinics (L), and Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, executive director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and president and co-founder of the VIDA Initiative (R), speak on the panel. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) ­– Science proves the humanity of unborn children and there are better options than Planned Parenthood for women, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and three pro-life leaders said at Georgetown University on the eve of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’ scheduled talk at the Catholic university.

Blackburn spoke to about 50 Georgetown University students about the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives in the U.S. House of Representatives, which she chairs, and the power of sonograms to show the humanity of babies in the womb. 

“With 3D sonograms, it is amazing,” Blackburn said.  “You can see detail.  And you know what a child’s features are going to be, especially if you know the parents or grandparents.  And you actually watch that baby grow and develop.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this arena…it certainly is.”

“Science has settled this issue for us,” Blackburn continued.  “It is a child, with moving arms and legs.  They get hiccups, turn around…and you know it’s an unborn baby.  And then that baby arrives.  And the celebration begins.  We have protected that life all the way through that pregnancy and then again on arrival we protect that life.”

Following Blackburn’s speech, a panel of pro-life medical experts discussed life-affirming alternatives to Planned Parenthood.

Dr. Jeanne Lord, Georgetown's Dean of Students, moderated the panel, which featured Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, the Executive Director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and President and Co-Founder of the VIDA Initiative; Kathleen Eaton Bravo, the Founder and CEO of Obria Medical Clinics; and Marguerite Duane, MD, MHA, FAAFP of Georgetown Medical School, who is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science (FACTS).

Gutierrez volunteered for Planned Parenthood during college but lost interest when she realized the organization didn’t share her values, she said.  She became involved in pro-life work when she saw an invitation at a church for a pregnancy center that was just starting in the neighborhood where she grew up.  She said she didn’t realize it at the time, but there were seven abortion facilities within a one-mile radius in that neighborhood.

“There is a paradox in the Hispanic community in that we are very instinctively pro-life,” Gutierrez said.  “But at the same time, abortion is being sold to us.  We are targeted by the abortion industry.”

Bravo told the students about her experience undergoing an abortion as a single mother. 

“If this is so right, why is this the most horrible, terrible experience I’ve ever been through, and what have I done?” she said that she asked herself.

Bravo now runs a network of fully licensed pro-life healthcare centers in California that provide a broad range of services including STD testing and treatment, HIV/AIDS testing, well woman care, prenatal care, and ultrasounds. 

All three women stressed the importance of providing holistic healthcare to women, which the abortion industry and particularly Planned Parenthood does not.

Part of holistic healthcare is teaching people about the way their bodies naturally function, they said.

Duane, who is a board certified family physician, said that hormonal birth control rejects what makes a woman a woman in order to make her like a man.

“In order to respect [the] unborn child, we need to respect our ability to create life,” she said.

In her role as co-founder and executive director of FACTS, Duane educates doctors about methods of tracking women’s fertility to avoid or achieve pregnancy.

“I believe we should be teaching all people…about the way their bodies are designed to function,” said Duane.  Pushing hormonal birth control on women sends the message “that they’re broken from the beginning of puberty,” she said.

Bravo said that her healthcare centers also educate women about their fertility.

“We are very health oriented, and fertility education is basically educating [women] on fertility and how beautiful it is and how wonderful it is to protect that,” Bravo explained.

Quoting Pope St. John Paul II’s famous advice to youth, “Be not afraid,” Duane encouraged pro-life students to be courageous.

“You will be challenged, you will be attacked, you will be harassed, you will be bullied, you will be rejected,” Duane said.  “Do not let that fear paralyze you or change the path that God is calling you to be on.”

Georgetown Right to Life hosted the event in conjunction with the Lecture Fund, the same group at Georgetown that is hosting Richards on April 20.

The panel was “a powerful message that the pro-life movement is also pro-woman,” Georgetown sophomore and President of Georgetown Right to Life Michael Khan told LifeSiteNews.

The goal of the pro-life movement is “babies saved and women served,” said Khan.

Khan criticized Georgetown for allowing Richards to speak on campus.  “I’m disappointed in Georgetown for allowing the Cecile Richards event to take place, particularly her speaking unchallenged on campus hosted by a recognized student group…It sends the wrong message not only to our students but to the wider community,” he said.

Khan said Georgetown Right to Life is one of the most active clubs on campus. 

“The students are really leading this fight, and that’s what I take joy in every day,” he said.

“We need to have more support from Georgetown administrators and our institution, like other Catholic institutions” such as Notre Dame, which has a pro-life office on campus, he said.

“As the oldest Catholic school in the country, the oldest Jesuit school, in many ways the most prestigious, we all have an obligation to lead on this issue,” Khan said.

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