Welcome to the Friday Femorandum, and thank you for your patience, as the Entire Staff of the Friday Femorandum has been out on vacation. But we’re back, with al the reproductive rights news that’s fit to reprint this week!
In a rather delicious bit of turnabout-is-fair-play, California became the first state this week to crack down on deceptive “crisis pregnancy centers”–fake clinics that lure pregnant girls and women with promises of “help” but then present them with anti-choice propaganda and attempt to bully them into having babies. According to Mother Jones, the California state assembly passed a law requiring the centers to provide information about low-cost reproductive health care services and let women know if they have no actual medical personnel on staff.
This is turnabout not just because most states let crisis pregnancy centers provide misinformation at will, but because anti-choice activists have pushed, often successfully, for laws that force doctors to provide inaccurate and unnecessary tests and information to women, including the lie that abortion is linked to breast cancer, invasive ultrasounds, and a verbal description of a fetus’ physical characteristics. Now the state is forcing them to actually tell the truth. Naturally, two crisis pregnancy centers have already sued to protect their right to lie to women, charging that the state is violating their rights by requiring them to provide accurate information about women’s health care options.
Over at Slate, Amanda Marcotte explains the depth of crisis pregnancy centers’ deception, including but not limited to telling women seeking abortions that they’re likely to miscarry anyway; exaggerating the risks of abortion to make women believe the procedure is life-threatening; and lying about the effectiveness of contraception. “The reason CPCs are so scared by a couple of signs stating bald facts is simple,” Marcotte writes: “The entire crisis pregnancy center system is built on the premise that it’s okay to lie to women in order to trick them into staying, or in some cases into getting, pregnant.”The ongoing Planned Parenthood saga continues: This week, the New York Times reports, the health-care organization announced that it would no longer receive reimbursement for the costs associated with making fetal tissue available for medical research at the two Planned Parenthood clinics that were being reimbursed for the service. The gesture, aimed at calming critics who continue to insist that the group is “selling aborted baby body parts for profit,” didn’t, as abortion foes immediately latched on to the decision as proof Planned Parenthood was guilty of … something. Fetal tissue research remains legal, and not one of the many state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s practices has found any evidence of wrongdoing.
Time’s Alice Park sees the silver lining in all this, noting that even though Planned Parenthood will now have to pay the cost of tissue donation (usually around $30-$100 per specimen), anti-choice radicals will no longer be able to claim they’re “making money” off the deals. Park writes:
Without the fees, anti-abortion activists are left to look for another way to target the group for its abortion services. And those attacks will come, as they have since the group opened its first facility in New York in 1916. But they won’t be built around the argument that Planned Parenthood takes money for body parts. Because they don’t any more.
That’s an optimistic view, and we hope she’s right … but fear that anti-choice absolutists will stop at nothing to keep Planned Parenthood in the spotlight.
Despite the relentless attacks against the organization, the latest Gallup poll finds that 59 percent of Americans still view Planned Parenthood favorably. That’s still a significant drop from earlier years, due mostly to sharp declines in support among Republicans. This year, just 35 percent of Republicans said they had a favorable view of Planned Parenthood, compared to a whopping 69 percent in 1993.