That is the number of babies that were killed by Planned Parenthood in 2015.
To clearly illustrate the immensity of this tragedy, the #Sockit2PP campaign was started by Students for Life in March with the intent of creating a simultaneously impressive and shocking visual appeal while also sending a clear message to Congress: now is the time to defund Planned Parenthood.
The #Sockit2PP campaign efforts culminated yesterday as members of the Students for Life team hosted a rally outside the United States Capitol in which they displayed 196,543 socks. The socks have been collected as a result of their campaign to collect 323,999 socks—representative of the number of babies killed in 2015 (the latest numbers available) by the nation’s largest abortion purveyor, Planned Parenthood.
The campaign was inspired by a tiny baby sock which was pinned to the backpack of a Students for Life college group member. Kristan Hawkins, Founder and President of Students for Life, realized the visual symbol could become a powerful national rallying cry.
The campaign has reached over half of its goal in numbers of socks, but decided to hold a rally outside of the United States Capitol now in spite of not yet reaching their final goal.
“I think it’s really important to create a visual for people to see,” said Missy Stone, National Field Director for Students for Life. “323,999 is a lot more than people anticipate. People just don’t understand; people say that number flippantly.” Missy noted that when people just hear a number, it doesn’t really resonate, but when they get a visual of over 190,000 empty infant socks, it gives people an idea of the awful reality of how many abortions are truly happening.
Missy said that the campaign created a very real way of providing the pro-life generation a channel with which to generate a national message to Congress that enough is enough—that it’s time to defund Planned Parenthood now.
Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life, talked about the effects the demonstration had on people who were walking by as the display was being set up in preparation for the rally. “I was telling them and their jaws dropped because this is the [visual] reality of what happens when we don’t defund Planned Parenthood,” Hawkins said prior to the rally. She noted that the socks on display were only a representation of roughly half of the babies who are aborted every year by Planned Parenthood. “This is the reality of the GOP not acting to defund Planned Parenthood, and we are here today letting them know we expect them to hold to your word to defund Planned Parenthood,” remarked Hawkins.
The rally featured various speakers such as Alison Howard, Director of Alliance Relations for Alliance Defending Freedom; Sue Thayer, former abortion facility director; and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse. During the rally, Sue Thayer noted that “we still have a lot of work to do. Think of what we could do with the 500 million dollars we funnel into Planned Parenthood [if it were] in the hands of pregnancy care centers.”
A number of high school and college students also spoke briefly. Purity Thomas, a young teen, collected over 1,000 baby socks for the initiative. She told the story of her sister who became pregnant at 19 and dropped out of college and the National Guard to carry and raise her child, who is now three years old. “[Planned Parenthood]’s workers ‘have to hit the gym’ in order to crush the skulls of preborn boys and girls. This is a[n] organization that kills our brothers and sisters,” she said, urging students to get involved in spreading the pro-life message. “How as a nation have we allowed this? … This is the time in our country when we need to stand up and look in the face of Planned Parenthood and say enough is enough.”
Senator Ben Sasse emphasized the importance of being charitable when speaking the truth about abortion: “America exists to fight for the most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic proposition, but a human proposition. The first thing we are trying to do is to persuade our brothers and sisters to look at the gift of life and look at the glories of what is actually happening inside the womb, and tell the truth about how each baby has dignity. This picture that you’re trying to create today is another special way to tell the story of what we’re about, because what we are about is about love, what we are about is about neighborly-ness, what we’re about is about dignity.”
Emily Brown, the Youth Director at American Life League, reminded the audience that Planned Parenthood is on the defense right now. “The pro-life generation is stronger than ever before,” Brown said.
Deanna Wallace, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life, posed the question, “Planned Parenthood markets themselves as ‘care no matter what’ but what kind of care are they actually giving women?” Wallace then cited multiple health violations such as failing to ensure a safe and sanitary environment, failing to document and protect patient recordings, failing to properly train staff, failing to dispose of expired medications and supplies, and failure to comply with health measures like making sure a gurney can reach a patient if she goes into distress. “It’s … important to remember that this ‘care’ [Planned Parenthood] is offering to women is not care at all. They are endangering women every day, and women deserve better!”
To wrap up the rally, Kristan Hawkins introduced Maddi Runkles, an 18-year-old student at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md. “I’m eighteen years old and I found out back in January that I was pregnant,” Runkles said. As a senior in high school with her whole life ahead of her, she admitted to briefly considering abortion because of the lies that Planned Parenthood tells girls like her.
“I look at all these socks and that could have been my baby, but I choose to let my baby wear these socks. I know it’s going to be hard, I know it’s going to be really hard to still accomplish all my goals and all my dreams,” Runkles said, her voice shaking with emotion. “But I get to have a little guy following right next to me and we get to do it together.” Runkles went on to point out that girls like her are perfect targets for Planned Parenthood, which ironically claims to be all about women’s rights, but instead pushes a less than empowering message by telling a woman that she can’t do it. “I chose life for my baby and I chose not to believe the lies that Planned Parenthood told me. Congress needs to defund Planned Parenthood and take all their tax money away,” Runkles concluded.
The #Sockit2PP rally was a sobering yet encouraging demonstration, showing that there is a strong chorus of voices speaking up for the voiceless in our nation’s capital. With more creative displays of this nature, more and more hearts and minds will change and realize that women deserve better than Planned Parenthood and abortion.