Dawn Rizzoni | Correspondent | Monday, June 26, 2006
When Republican Ted Harvey, the assistant minority leader in the Colorado House, learned on May 8 of legislation meant to honor Planned Parenthood's Rocky Mountain branch, he says he was disgusted. He labeled Planned Parenthood's record a "90-year legacy of genocide."
Harvey attended a pro-life rally the weekend before the scheduled hearing on the bill and it was there that he met abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. Jessen's biological mother was 17 years old and 7 1/2 months pregnant she went to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have a saline abortion.
The abortion failed and Jessen was born weighing two pounds and afflicted with cerebral palsy as a result of the complicated birth.
Harvey approached Jessen after hearing her story and asked her if she would sing the national anthem in the Colorado House on May 8.
"I never knew anything about her (before)," Harvey said. "I thought this was an incredibly divine opportunity to meet her and ask her to stay."
Jessen agreed and Harvey introduced her to his colleagues as a "friend with cerebral palsy." He asked Speaker Andrew Romanoff if Jessen could sing the national anthem and the speaker agreed.
During the song, Jessen lost her balance and leaned on Harvey for support. When she began to forget the words, saying that she was nervous, legislators and guests began to sing along with her.
After she was finished, the speaker, according to Harvey, stated, "Let us give her a hand not only for her performance today but also for her advocacy work," for cerebral palsy.
Harvey also said a reporter for a Denver newspaper told Jessen that "her rendition captured the spirit of the national anthem more powerfully than any she had ever heard before."
Harvey then gave a speech to formally introduce Jessen, but left out the details of her being an abortion survivor. Legislators cheered loudly, and House Majority Leader Alice Madden, who had introduced the bill honoring the Planned Parenthood chapter, approached Jessen to congratulate her for overcoming her difficulties with cerebral palsy.
Finally, Harvey began to tell of Jessen's near-abortion. At that point, he says, the mood in the House shifted. Before he could finish, Romanoff silenced Harvey with the gavel, stating, according to Harvey, "Representative Harvey, I will allow you to continue your introduction but not for the purposes of debating a measure now pending before the House."
Harvey says he replied, "Mr. Speaker, I understand. I just wanted to put a face to what we are celebrating today."
While Harvey admits that he was "pushing the line to speak about legislation before the House," he said it was important for him to show, through Jessen, that "every child in the womb is a human being."
He says that the silence following his speech was "deafening" and that Madden would not speak to him for the rest of the day.
Madden is quoted in the Denver Post as saying, "I think it was amazingly rude to use a human being as an example of his personal politics." She added that Harvey "embarrassed a guest in the House, which was just despicable, for his own means."
Jessen, however, told the same paper that, "We need to discuss the humanity of it. I'm glad to be able to speak up for children in the womb. If abortion is about women's rights, where were my rights?"
Harvey has since been overwhelmed with emails from across the world regarding the incident. "I've received over 2,000 emails so far," he said, "from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Sweden, and every state in the U.S." He said all of the emails have been supportive and have expressed what an inspiration his actions have had on the pro-life movement.
"It's amazing to watch the Lord work this way," Harvey said. "This is truly an act of God. I'm not the hero in this story. I haven't done anything. I'm just the one who put a face to this issue. I just gave a speech and wrote a story about it."
In an email to his supporters, Harvey elaborated: "Gianna Jessen lives this story every day. She is the hero who sacrificially put a face, her face to what the pro-abortionists were celebrating that day."
Marjorie Signer, director of communications and policy for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, stated in an email exchange with Cybercast News Service that Harvey is a politician portraying himself as "a servant of God."
"His arrogance and self-satisfaction show he is using this woman's life story for his personal political purposes," Signer said. "He is gleeful at the chance to tarnish Planned Parenthood's good name.
"Does he know about all the health care Planned Parenthood provides -- family planning counseling and services, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, providing Pap smears for cancer detection, and more?" Signer asked. "Clearly, Mr. Harvey is obsessed with abortion, and that seems to have affected his ability to think clearly."
Madden and Romanoff did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
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