As Congressional Republicans push to cut off federal funding from Planned Parenthood early next year, nearly two dozen faith leaders came together earlier this week to bless the organization’s newest health facility in Washington, DC.
The ceremony welcomed religious leaders from all creeds and corners of the world, including Christians of various denominations, a rabbi, Hindu priests and an openly gay Imam contacted over Skype from Thailand, as well as care providers.
Before the event kicked off, an all-female percussion troupe performed in the entrance hall. Guests then gathered in an upstairs room for a prayer circle led by Rabbi Michael Namath. This was followed by a “liturgical” dance, visual art performances and various rituals intended to bless the clinic.
Two Hindu priests from the Sri Bhaktha Anjaneya Temple in Frederick, MD chanted a mantra, which one of them explained “gives a good vibration to the building and anyone who comes in will be healed soon.”
After the ceremony ended and everyone had left, the two later stayed behind to sprinkle holy water around the facility because “when we chant mantras, vibrations go through the water,” flushing away all negative energies.
Attendees were also encouraged to write down negative thoughts and feelings on little stones, which they could then dispose of and replace with new stones with inspiring messages on them, such as “Peace” and “Courage.”
“Allow yourself to be blessed as you put it under the water and take it with you,” said a pastor as the crowd intoned the classic gospel song “This Little Light of Mine.”
“In almost every message to our staff, I talk about our doing sacred work,” Dr. Laura Meyers, president of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington told the DCist “This confirms the sacredness of the work we do.”
Later, she said pro-life advocates “tried to separate those of us working on or supporting the right of women to choose from a sense of deep spirituality. So today is a shift in that narrative.”
The new Planned Parenthood facility, which has been opened since September, is located next to an elementary school in DC., much to the outrage of local pro-lifers.
On Thursday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed the Republicans’ commitment to block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal health care dollars for services provided to women —including preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests, and other services — because the organization also provides abortions.
Existing law already excludes abortion from services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid — except in extreme and exceptional circumstances (such as incest or when a mother’s life is endangered.)