As America reeled from the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts, so did many citizens of Placerville, California. Placerville is the home of StemExpress, one of the fetal tissue procurement companies doing business with Planned Parenthood.
While some CMP videos show high-level Planned Parenthood staffers haggling over organs procured from aborted babies, other videos feature Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress procurement technician, who details her job – including how she was instructed to cut through the face of a yet-living aborted baby boy in order to harvest his brain tissue at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in California.
Following these revelations, a group of Placerville citizens began protesting outside StemExpress, exposing their grisly business.
The group’s efforts began when a small group of concerned citizens organized on Facebook with the intent of educating their community about StemExpress. Started by Lisa Hart and another Placerville citizen, the page had hundreds of followers within days. People Protesting StemExpress’s first post from July reads:
… [J]ust the notion that such a practice would be going on within a company that have locations here in our town, is reason enough to speak up about our thoughts on the matter. For the most part Placerville and the El Dorado Foothills communities are tight-nit [sic] and conservative in their views.
By August 3, 2015, the group held its first protest, which received coverage from local media. On August 4th, the group posted that they had received several thank you messages from people for “bringing awareness.” On August 5th, they learned they were not alone – another group had planned to protest the fetal body parts procurement company as well.
“We’re trying to say stop this practice or get out of Placerville,” Lisa Hart (pictured above) told News10. “We don’t condone this in our town. We don’t want this in our town.”
By August 7th, protests were being organized in front of StemExpress on Mondays and Wednesdays. By August 22nd, protesters were organizing every Saturday, as well. Soon after, citizen groups not affiliated with the original Facebook group began to join them.
Hart says that shortly after the media covered their protests they received word that StemExpress had “cut ties” with Planned Parenthood. She says that in addition to the public outreaches, the group has requested that the Board of Supervisors audit StemExpress to examine any evidence of alleged violations. In addition, the group has contacted the local El Dorado County Sheriff’s department to demand an investigation of StemExpress.
One of the protesters, Marcia Brim, says that when StemExpress came to town, people needed jobs – and no one knew what the fetal body parts procurement agency was really all about. “Nobody was more astounded by what was happening in our back yard than the people of Placerville. Our county doesn’t even have an abortion clinic,” Brim told Live Action News.
Brim says that before she saw the CMP videos, she had never taken part in a protest. Now she has been protesting outside Stem Express two to three days a week for several months. “A lot of us have never protested anything like this before,” Brim said. “That is my story. I prayed for the others but never did it myself. What David and CMP did has made a huge difference in our lives and we are very grateful for what he has brought to light.”
Brim told Live Action News that when she heard about the pickets in front of StemExpress, she contacted over 300 people she knew from a group she was involved with, and the response was tremendous. She says people were grateful to have a way to speak up. Religious and non-religious citizens have joined in the protest, along with three pastors.
According to Brim, protesters have received a positive response: “On the sidewalk we have people who walk or drive by and it is overwhelmingly apparent that the citizens of Placerville support the protests.”
Protester Robbie Jeremica agrees. He has spent every Wednesday in front of StemExpress for the past 12 weeks, where he observed that most of the responses from those driving or walking by have been positive. He and his wife Chrissy call their ability to expose what is going on a “blessing” because, as he explained to Live Action News, he believes they are being “a voice for the unborn.”
Brim has documented her encounters outside StemExpress and intends to publish them in a blog. She sums up by saying, “What started in Placerville wasn’t an exclusively Christian or pro-life effort, it was an effort of local citizens saying, ‘not in my backyard.'”