IRS Made Us Not Protest Planned Parenthood, Pro-Lifer Tells Congress

At a hearing today over the Internal Revenue Service and how it targeted conservative and pro-life group, the head of one pro-life organization provide details about how the federal agency discriminated against it.

Sue Martinek, President of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, explained to the House Ways and Means Committee that her pro-life group “is a grass-roots, low-budget public charity founded in 2004, to provide prayer, education, and related activities about the sanctity of life from conception to death.”

“Throughout our history, we have organized and sponsored educational forums and engaged in peaceful prayer activities,” she said.

When the group sought nonprofit status, she said, “The IRS’s questions centered on our educational activities, potential political activities, our prayer groups, and signage.”

Later, the IRS made the pro-life group commit to not protesting Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion business.

“In June of 2009, [IRS Agent] Richards told me verbally that we needed to send in a letter with the entire board’s signatures stating that under penalty of perjury we would not picket/protest or organize groups to picket/protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” Martinek said. “Upon receiving such a letter, she indicated that the IRS would allow our application to go through.”

“[T]he IRS continued questioning us,” Martinek continued. “On June 22, 2009, IRS Agent Richards sent us additional written requests, as follows: ‘Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3).”

She added: “Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at the prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organization spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization. Please explain in detail the signs that are being held up outside of Planned Parenthood and explain how they are considered educational.’ When we met at our next board meeting, we all were disappointed with the IRS’ request.”

Martinek concluded: “We had worked so hard to get the application correct. We had a local attorney skilled with this process helping us. We understood that we could hold up signs with educational information about abortion and the sanctity of life, without the IRS questioning their validity. We never thought we would have to defend our prayer activities. As Christians we knew we needed to pray for a better solution to unplanned pregnancy than abortion, why not at the source?”

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