Both Catholic and Protestant pro-life supporters marched in the March for Life of the Treasure Coast, walking 1.5 miles from the future Planned Parenthood site to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center. (ALEEN STANTON | FC)

Opening of Planned Parenthood in Port St. Lucie delayed

Port St. Lucie  |   The March for Life of the Treasure Coast held Jan. 18 in Port St. Lucie had a special focus this year. 

A new location of Planned Parenthood was scheduled to open at 1696 Hillmore Drive Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Those marching were planning to protest outside the clinic, but the opening of the Planned Parenthood clinic was delayed. March participants were not given a reason for the delay, but many faithful expressed their joy, saying it was a result of prayer. 

“Praise God!” said Bryan Longworth, associate pastor of Covenant Tabernacle Church in Port St. Lucie and president of Sanctity of Human Life of the Treasure Coast, a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to uniting the pro-life community and communicating the pro-life message throughout the Treasure Coast. Longworth led the March for Life of the Treasure Coast, in conjunction with Catholics in the area. 

“The opening is delayed!” exclaimed Jim Thoma, a Catholic leader of the march that day. 

Longworth opened the march by blowing a shofar, an instrument once used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and as a battle signal. Longworth emphasized the spiritual significance of the horn. 

“This horn is like a spiritual wake-up call for victory,” he said. “This is spiritual warfare that is going on here. Remember, one day God will give us victory and end abortion in America.” 

The march participants proceed to walk from the future Planned Parenthood building to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center and back, approximately one and a half miles. During the march, Father Stephen Imbarrato, Catholic pro-life activist, contributor to EWTN Catholic TV, and a leader of the Red Rose Rescue movement, addressed the crowd of protesters and led them in prayer. 

“We save babies from abortion,” Father Imbarrato said. “I travel around the country going from one abortion facility to another. I do prayers of minor exorcism in front of Planned Parenthood buildings. This is what I’m called to do.” 

Dave Olio, a member of St. Andrew Parish Knights of Columbus Council 6241 and founder of God’s Resources, a mobile pregnancy care resource center in West Palm Beach, said, “God’s Resources will be coming up here to Port St. Lucie to help.” 

MaryAnn Stefko, a parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Palm Bay, said, “I am here to protest the legalization of abortion and want Planned Parenthood defunded.” 

Deanna Herbst-Hoosac, program administrator for Respect Life Catholic Charities of Palm Beach, said, “Within the Respect Life Ministry, we work with the 53 parishes in our diocese to support them and educate them on the issues. The outreach both spiritually and physically in Port St. Lucie has been amazing. God clearly has this group of advocates ready for Planned Parenthood, if it opens.” 

Following the march, Father Michael Cairnes, parochial vicar of Holy Family Parish in Port St. Lucie, led a prayer to the Blessed Mother. “We ask Mary to bless Port St. Lucie and to wash this place and keep it from all evil.”

The delay in opening the new location of Planned Parenthood provided Catholics in the area with the opportunity to attend a sidewalk counseling workshop Feb. 8 at Holy Family Church. The workshop was facilitated by Sidewalk Advocates for Life and led by Angela Simpson, who trains sidewalk counselors in Stuart on how to minister and spread the good news of life to expectant mothers seeking services from Planned Parenthood. “As we pray and hope that the new Planned Parenthood building does not open, we have to prepare for the worst,” said Simpson. “Sidewalk counseling is an important and rewarding way to help moms and babies while spreading a culture of life.” 

Herbst-Hoosac added, “The importance of being trained for sidewalk counseling is that it helps teach us how to portray love, support and encouragement in changing hearts during a life-altering decision.”