John Gregory -- Illinois Radio Network

Anti-abortion protesters repeatedly reference U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's stroke in demanding he switch his position on defunding Planned Parenthood.

Kirk was the only Republican in the U.S. Senate to oppose the defunding effort after an anti-abortion group began releasing videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue. The organization has claimed the recordings have been deceptively edited.

In a small protest outside his Chicago office Thursday, speakers like Debbie Leininger, director of Concerned Women of America's Illinois chapter, said Kirk's 2012 stroke should give him reason to support their cause.

"You yourself have been given a second chance at life. Little babies deserve a first chance at life," Leininger said.

Others promised "political consequences" for Kirk if he doesn't change his position.

State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) didn't mention Kirk by name, but compared the Planned Parenthood videos to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago killed in Mississippi.

"What helped to spark the civil rights movement was his mother's insistence that the casket be open so that America could see the horrible and gruesome act that happened to her son," Morrison said. "As I watch these videos, I have that same kind of horror and revulsion."

About 20 people stood behind Morrison when he made those remarks. Like Morrison, and unlike Till, all were white.

Kirk is getting some applause for his stance from his Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

"He deserves credit. He's the only Republican to have voted against defunding Planned Parenthood, and so naturally, I would, he happened to agree with my position on that," Durbin said.

In a statement, Kirk press secretary Britt Logan said "Sen. Kirk believes that access to contraception means fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer abortions. Blocking women’s access to affordable birth control will have the opposite effect. As he has stated, the Senator supports an investigation and prosecution of anyone involved in illegal activity."

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