Choice News

Friday Femorandum: This Week’s Contestants Are…

It’s Friday, which means it is time once again for our favorite quiz, Who Hates Planned Parenthood the Most?

This week’s contestants are:

US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who attacked PP president Cecile Richards for taking home a salary of $520,000 and produced perhaps the most ridiculous anti-abortion “chart” ever fabricated, a chart that tossed aside the concepts of the Y axis and slopes and proportion and, frankly, numbers to make it appear that the number of abortions Planned Parenthood provides has dramatically increased while the number of cancer screenings and cancer prevention services it provides has plummeted.

As Kevin Drum points out at Mother Jones, an honest chart, one that showed the two lines existing in the same numerical universe, would show that the number of abortions has increased only slightly as the number of cancer screenings has gone down. And why have they declined? Because, along with every other women’s health care provider in the nation, Planned Parenthood follows federal guidelines for breast and reproductive cancer screenings, which now recommend far less-frequent screenings.

In fact, when you include all non-abortion services Planned Parenthood provides, the chart looks like this:

But that isn’t as dramatic, obviously, as a “chart” fabricated out of whole cloth.

Next up is everyone’s favorite millennial mansplainer, David Daleiden, whose Center for Medical Progress is standing by a video that exploits images of a miscarried fetus to provide continued fodder for GOP Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s false claim that she saw footage of a Planned Parenthood staffer standing over a still-kicking fetus talking about harvesting its brain.

None of this is true, of course (the brain “harvesting” description came from an anti-choice former procurement specialist with the company StemExpress; the video, which Daleiden initially claimed was a “born-alive infant from a late-term abortion,” is film taken during and after a woman’s miscarriage.)

Daleiden kinda-sorta admitted that the video may not have been exactly what Fiorina described but, as Jezebel notes, did it in the most evasive possible way, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “What I think what matters is the fact that this — that’s an example of an 18 to 19 week fetus, which is the exact same gestational age that Planned Parenthood routinely aborts and harvests the organs from.”

We’ll make Fiorina our third contestant, for standing by her description of the nonexistent video even in the face of overwhelming evidence that she made it up.

Next in line is House Majority Leader (and likely next House Speaker) Kevin McCarthy, who admitted to CNN’s Jake Tapper that his long-term strategy is to use the Planned Parenthood videos as a kind of reproductive Benghazi against Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Clinton, by forming a select committee to “investigate” the videos and holding endless public hearings, tying Clinton to Planned Parenthood’s supposed (and fictitious) nefarious acts.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (YouTube)Then there’s Wisconsin US Rep. Glenn Grothman, who inquired of Richards, with a straight face, why he should care if Planned Parenthood stay open, given that, “as a guy,” he had more than enough health care options. “As a guy, I could go to many clinics locally that have all the machines that one would need,” Grothmann said. “All these clinics, as far as I know, take Medicaid dollars, so you could go to any of those clinics to get any medical service you could.”

Then again, the award should really just go to all the Republican members of Congress who harangued Richards for five hours, barely letting her get a word in edgewise, over such nationally important issues as whether the government should fund “carv[ing] up a child and call[ing] it a choice,” as Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell so eloquently put it .



Choice News, Uncategorized

Monday Motivation: Fiorina Doubles Down

With Scott Walker out of the race for President, the remaining 15 Republican hopefuls are need to distinguish themselves, and what better way to do so than to trample all over women’s rights? (See: Donald “Only If She’s Almost Dead” Trump and Carly “Fully Formed Fetus” Fiorina).

The weekend found Fiorina doubling down on her completely made-up claims about a nonexistent video showing a fetus kicking its legs on a table while clinicians discussed how best to harvest its brain. Instead of backing down in the face of evidence she had made the whole thing up, Fiorina demanded that pro-choice advocates “prove to me” that they watched the supposed video (which does not exist), and insisted again that the video (which does not exist) showed exactly what she said it showed (which it does not, because it does not exist).

Newsbusters, the conservative media site, defended Fiorina’s off-the-wall comments while attacking NOW President Terry O’Neill for defending Planned Parenthood and noting that the anti-choice policies Fiorina supports will actually result in the deaths of more women.

Bizarrely, the site charged that O’Neill had no right to weigh in on Fiorina’s promises to defund Planned Parenthood because she hadn’t shown “the same fervor … when when it came to Jenna Lee and Sandra Smith of Fox News being mocked by TBS comedian Conan O’Brien on Monday night as being possible porn stars in a fake book called Fox News Anchor or Porn Star.” Now, that segment is certainly worthy of scorn, but it’s quite the logical leap to say that because an advocate doesn’t denounce every single sexist act occurring in the world at the moment, she has no right to speak out against the anti-woman views of a prominent candidate for President.

Are you familiar with the concept of concern trolling? Basically, it’s the practice of jumping into discussions about a behavior or belief you thoroughly oppose by pretending to have “concerns” about it; a good example is a fat-shamer who says, “I don’t dislike people, I’m just concerned about their health!” (Or a Bible-thumper who says, “I don’t hate atheists, I’m just concerned about their souls,” or a homophobe who says, “I don’t hate the sinner, I just hate the sin of homosexuality!”–you get the picture.

The Federalist provides an excellent template for how concern trolling works in the abortion debate, in this piece that disingenuously expresses concern for “good people” who have nonetheless been suckered into supporting Planned Parenthood.

First, set up your premise: Of course you don’t think the target is bad for believing what they do. “Some of my dearest friends are pro-choice,” the piece begins, “and I can say beyond doubt that regardless of their political leanings, none is even remotely a monster.” Then express astonishment at their inability to see things how they really are. “How is it these good people who do good things and who are a lot like me support a practice so vile it is without question straight from pits of hell?” Finally, blame outside forces for making them believe these horrible things. “For the past 40 years the abortion industry has systematically chipped away at our national sense of decency and left us with a moral penury that now concludes, without reservation, that taking the life of one’s child is no big deal.”  That right there is concern trolling 101.

Now, you probably don’t want to show your hand too much, like this writer did when she liken women’s health care to the Holocaust. You’ll be more likely to convince your audience that you’re genuinely concerned if you don’t compare the group you’re discussing to Hitler.

In response to concerns that the millions of women, many of them low-income, who use Planned Parenthood’s services will lose access to basic health care if Congress defunds the organization, anti-choice activists have insisted that there are “thousands and thousands” of alternatives that provide the exact same services as Planned Parenthood, except abortions. LifeNews, for example, claims that a website called Get Your Care gives women information about the “thousands of health care clinics in the United States that offer legitimate health care to women.” However, as The C Is for Crank reported this weekend, those “alternatives” are usually already-overburdened community clinics, including school clinics for children.

Either these anti-choice activists didn’t do their research, or (more likely) sites like Get Your Care are a cynical attempt to prove that Planned Parenthood isn’t necessary while paradoxically showing how much it is.


Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Productive Rights


Friday Fem is coming out too early to capture the local coverage of Sen. Patty Murray’s Seattle appearance denouncing efforts by Congressional Republican leaders to defund Planned Parenthood even at the risk of a federal government shutdown, so consider this BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Murray stood with Planned Parenthood this morning against her counterparts in the House who voted, 241 to 187, to eliminate the health-care provider’s $500 million in annual federal funding.

In response to claims by opponents that the millions of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for reproductive and primary health care can simply “go somewhere else,” Murray said: “It’s appalling to me that they are using that kind of argument because it simply isn’t true. I cannot tell you how many people have told me over the years that they would not have gotten the basic health care that they needed, and education and knowledgeable support, without Planned Parenthood. I believe that women should have the ability to have their own health care provider that they trust, not one picked by someone in Washington, D.C.”

Murray was in good company this week. In anticipation of the vote, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich did a video for Huffington Post defending Planned Parenthood on economic, rather than moral, grounds. And he coined a new term: PROductive rights.

“Public investments in family planning — enabling women to plan, delay, or avoid pregnancy — make economic sense, because reproductive rights are also productive rights,” Reich says in the video. “When women have control over their lives, they can contribute even more to the economy, better break the glass ceiling, equalize the pay gap, and much more.”

[Content note: Graphic description of fetal parts] There have been a lot of fact check posts on this week’s Republican meltdown debate (Politifact’s is pretty good), but Amanda Marcotte’s piece on Slate definitively shreds failed HP chief Carly Fiorina’s claim that the discredited anti-Planned Parenthood videos show “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

After debunking that ridiculous charge (“There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating”), Marcotte writes: “Fiorina’s plan to cut contraception access would likely lead to higher, not lower abortion rates. Misleading and sensationalized videos aren’t going to change any of the above.”

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter whether people believe lurid descriptions of the tapes are accurate, or whether GOP leaders decide Planned Parenthood has even done anything wrong: As Steve Benen points out on MSNBC, Congressional Republicans have indicated that they want to defund Planned Parenthood regardless of whether the group broke any laws (spoiler: It didn’t), because they just don’t like Planned Parenthood. Or women’s autonomy. “‘The issue is not whether there’s been a crime committed or not,’ Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) said last week. ‘This issue is whether or not taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood.’”

And even if (or when) Congressional efforts to kill Planned Parenthood funding die in the Democratically-controlled House, state-level anti-choice laws will continue to threaten access to reproductive health care across the nation. Since 2011, US News reports, conservative state legislatures have passed and conservative governors have signed 280 new laws restricting or eliminating access to abortion, including 20-week bans, unnecessary “counseling” requirements, and unnecessary code changes that require women’s clinics to meet the same standards as hospitals that perform open-heart surgery.


Abortion Care, Commentary

Anti-Choice “Alternatives” to Planned Parenthood Are Anything But

ncAnti-choice organizations are constantly trying to prove that Planned Parenthood clinics aren’t necessary by creating sites like this one––that direct women to clinics that they say provide the same services as Planned Parenthood.

I looked at their options in my Seattle ZIP code, which happens to be the lowest-income ZIP code in the city. Every clinic the “pro-life” group directed me to were run by a single organization, Neighborcare. Many did not provide women’s health care, in some cases for the simple reason that the locations listed as “substitutes” for Planned Parenthood were children’s clinics inside elementary schools.

Neighborcare is a wonderful organization that provides critical services to low-income women and girls, including in-school clinics where teenagers can access sexual health information and birth control. But their clinics simply don’t have the capacity to take on all of Planned Parenthood’s clients in the city of Seattle. And Neighborcare is chronically underfunded. Flooding them with thousands of new low-income clients will only push organizations like Neighborcare further underwater.

Nor does Neighborcare provide abortion services. In 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, around 22,000 women in Washington state obtained legal abortions from providers like Planned Parenthood. Anti-choice organizations who say women can just “go somewhere else” are not only denying the reality that there aren’t enough publicly subsidized clinics in the nation to take on Planned Parenthood’s work, they’re telling low-income women with unplanned pregnancies that they don’t deserve the same options as those with means. It’s gender and economic discrimination disguised as a well-intentioned effort to offer women “alternatives.”

Choice News

Monday Motivation: They Really Do Think Women Are That Stupid


Right-wing efforts to shut down Planned Parenthood have gotten to the point where anti-choicers are actually debating whether a total government shutdown might be a good idea. The pros and cons, according to Life News:

Pro: Planned Parenthood opponents would really be making their point felt. Con: Shutting down all government offices and services might prove unpopular with the public. As a middle ground, the piece suggests, Congressional Republicans should consider a procedural move attaching the funding  cuts to a separate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act–another longtime target of Congressional Republicans opposed to the notion that health care, but particularly women’s health care, is a human right.

The man who shaped the philosophy of Center for Medical Progress director David Daleiden, the guy who released the doctored videos that became the raison d’être for the latest round of attacks on Planned Parenthood, is Operation Rescue founder Troy Newman, who now advises activists on how to harass and intimidate abortion patients and providers.

Right Wing Watch has gathered some of the most terrifying quotes from Newman’s 2000 manifesto, “Their Blood Cries Out,” including this one justifying the “execution” of abortion providers:

When moms, dads, abortionists are added together, well over 100,000,000 people bear personal bloodguilt for at least one abortion. The doctrine of community bloodguilt found in Scripture further implicates the entire nation. The perpetrators are far too numerous and the bloodguilt has spread too far. We deserve God’s judgment.

In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.

Just to reiterate: This man is the intellectual inspiration for and actual supporter of the group that many in Congress consider legitimate “investigative journalists” for their doctored videos supposedly incriminating Planned Parenthood.

As you probably already know, so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” are fake clinics that lure pregnant women with vague promises of medical care and “help,” then use shame and guilt to persuade women not to choose abortion. They also think women are very, very stupid, as you can see in this Live Action News piece about “Hillary,” a heroin addict who says she can’t stop using even to save her baby, but nonetheless decides to bring a child into the world after seeing an ultrasound. According to Live Action News,

“Many of our clients don’t realize the tiny miracle of life growing inside of them until they see the baby’s picture on an ultrasound,” Carol Dodds, executive director of A Woman’s Friend, said. “Once they see the heartbeat, they know without a doubt that this is not a blob of tissue, but rather a little human being relying on them for sustenance and protection, that the decision they make will save or end a life.”

Hear that, ladies? Pregnancy can lead to babies. You’re welcome.

Hillary’s story may have had a happy ending (according to this single, highly dubious source, anyway), but the truth is that many women aren’t ready to become parents, and need to deal with issues such as addiction, unemployment, abuse, and poverty before making the leap into parenthood. And in general, parenthood isn’t the miracle cure crisis pregnancy centers say it is; in fact, it  often makes life much more difficult. and problems more intractable, than they were before.

Finally, if you want to see anti-choicers twisting themselves into rhetorical pretzels over the recent decision allowing the March for Life to deny women access to birth control, check out LifeNews‘ piece responding to Jill Filipovic’s column in Cosmo, confusingly (and misleadingly) titled, “Cosmo is Upset That Pro-Life Women May be Deprived of Abortion Pills.”