After anti-choice zealots at a shell group called the “Center for Medical Progress” the fourth of what they promise will be more than a dozen “incriminating” videos about Planned Parenthood (incriminating in the sense that they show medical professionals candidly discussing medical procedures, in this case donation of fetal tissue), it would be reasonable to expect that their comrades in Congress and on the Presidential campaign trail would be experiencing some #fetusgate fatigue.
But instead of backing away from the fraudulent videos as their allegations are repeatedly debunked by reporters and pro-choice groups across the nation, those same anti-choice politicians have actually doubled down on their rhetoric, with one candidate going so far as to say he’d consider sending in federal troops to stop abortions in light of the (non-) revelations.
In Texas, the San Antonio Current reports, having solved all the state’s problems related to teen pregnancy, income inequality, gun violence, poverty, and racial disparities in education and hiring, the state has turned its attention to Planned Parenthood, launching an active investigation into the reproductive health care organization’s activities in the state. The Current quotes Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as follows: “But more than any misdeeds involving the sale of aborted baby parts is this fundamental truth: the true abomination in all this is the institution of abortion.”
Paxton goes on to describe a staffer who went to see how Planned Parenthood Houston disposed of “aborted child … body parts,” expressing horror at the notion that fetal tissue would be described as “medical waste,” which, in fact, it is. (“Waste” is the term used to describe tissue that is donated to medical research as well as tissue that is discarded.)
Meanwhile, over in Congress, Politico reports that support among Republicans for a “hardline Planned Parenthood strategy” (note: Politico has not historically been a particular ally to Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups) has been rising as the 2016 election nears. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), for example, has said he supports yanking federal funding for Planned Parenthood, saying, “most Americans do not believe that their tax dollars should be used to fund the kind of grotesque procedures we’ve seen authenticated. I would vote for a spending bill that defunded it … it’s pretty obvious.” Before he tacked hard to the right, McCain was known as a moderate on “social” issues like reproductive rights, and still claims to be a “common-sense,” reasonable sort of Republican.
Another senator who claims to be one thing (a libertarian) but is clearly another (a virulently anti-choice zealot), Presidential candidate Rand Paul, is leading the charge to defund family planning. Talking Points Memo quotes Paul as saying he would force a vote to take money away from Planned Parenthood, adding: “I think the time is now to discuss whether taxpayer dollars should be going to such a gruesome procedure.”
Fusion reports on a move by the conservative consultants advising GOP Presidential candidates to focus their talking points on fetuses, ultrasounds, and the kind of graphic images that haven’t been mainstream in many years–changes that, cumulatively, erase women from the abortion debate altogether. The piece quotes one Republican consultant as saying, “The out-of-sight, out-of-mind mantra that propelled the pro-choice movement for decades is forever gone.” I won’t even try to unpackage the mendacity of that whole premise, but I will note that it perfectly describes what anti-choicers are trying to do right now: Erase women from their own life stories, to better focus on fetal tissue as the real “patient” under the doctor’s care.
One of those presidential candidates, two-time loser Mike Huckabee, has upped the ante on anti-choice rhetoric, suggesting that he would use federal troops to stop women from accessing abortion services, Think Progress reports. After Huckabee commented ominously, “I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this,” a reporter asked him if he would use federal troops or the FBI to stop women from getting abortions, he said, “We’ll see if I get to be president.” Then he compared himself to Abraham Lincoln. Well, that settles it!