WTF?: Planned Parenthood, protesters and the Pontiac show

There was no lack of laughs at the performance of The Daily Show co-founder Lizz Winstead’s performance at the Eagle Theater in Pontiac last Saturday night, but the benefit to raise money for Planned Parenthood also had some unexpected poignancy.

There was also some drama as scores of anti-abortion protesters staked out the sidewalk across the street from the theater, waving posters bearing bloody images of aborted fetuses and dancing as if in a state of rapture.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood staged a counter-demonstration, but didn’t look like they were having nearly as much fun as the fundamentalists.

Inside, once the show began, it was a different story. Winstead proved to be a real hoot, poking fun at the Tea Party, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican presidential hopefuls, who the comic described as “the cream of the crap” on a “tour de farce.”

The opening show in a six-city effort that’s being billed as the WTF (What’s the Fuss?) Tour, the fundraiser — which featured a few opening remarks from both Lori Lamerand, president of PP’s Mid and South Michigan Chapter, and Rep. Gary Peters, an Oakland County Democrat — was about raising awareness as well as money.

It is easy to forget, but earlier this year the U.S. government was facing another potential shutdown. At that time, some Republicans were threatening to scuttle a budget deal unless all federal funding for Planned Parenthood — about $363 million a year — was shut off.

The thing is that, by law, none of that federal money is allowed to pay for abortion at Planned Parenthood clinics. Those get funded through private donations. Democrats, fortunately, held fast, and the GOP pro-lifers backed down.

But the attacks on the nonprofit, which spends the great bulk of its resources on providing health care services such as pap smears and breast exams, continue.

And here’s the really crazy thing: One of PP’s primary missions is to provide services that prevent unwanted pregnancies. Take away the group and what it offers, and the inevitable result will be more women who don’t want to have children getting pregnant. Which means there will be more abortions, not fewer. Perhaps as many as a half-million more a year, according to PP’s estimates.

Which means that if those protesters outside the Eagle Theater and the right-wingers in Congress really wanted to reduce the number of bloody little unborns, they would be lobbying to help planned Parenthood get more money instead of trying to see it shut down.

But logic is lost on the radicals who want to dictate what women can do with their bodies.

What made the whole event unexpectedly heart touching was the way Winstead closed out the show. After spending most of the night riffing on material ripped, as the say, from the day’s headlines, she wrapped things up by sitting in a chair and reading an excerpt from an upcoming book.

With piercing candor, she recounted her own experience of getting pregnant at the age of 16. Not knowing where to turn, sitting on a bus, she saw an ad for a pregnancy counseling service. Instead of being Planned Parenthood, though, it turned out to be a church-backed agency that attempted to heap guilt on her for even contemplating having an abortion. An already arduous choice for a 16-year-old girl became all that much more difficult.

No one was laughing when Winstead turned the last page of her story. But more than a few were shedding tears.

It was a remarkably courageous performance.

Too bad those rapturous teens singing and dancing across the street couldn’t experience it.

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