Planned Parenthood

Tags ››› Planned Parenthood
  • Right-Wing Media's Obsession With Planned Parenthood Is Thwarting Local Efforts To Reduce HIV Rates

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Right-wing media have been adamant that Planned Parenthood should not receive any government funding, even for programs that have nothing to do with abortion. But withholding health care funds from Planned Parenthood is the medical equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face, as evidenced by the defunded local affiliates whose HIV prevention programs have become far less -- or completely -- ineffective.

    National HIV Testing Day -- on June 27 this year -- is a day to promote HIV testing, prevention, and education. While HIV is not limited to any one demographic, it is more highly concentrated in economically disadvantaged areas. HIV is also particularly prevalent in black, Hispanic/Latino, gay, and transgender communities. While 1.2 million people were living with HIV, 13 percent aren't aware of it. Prevention programs supported by federal grants help provide accessible HIV testing and public education and are critical to reducing new diagnosis rates each year. However, right-wing media’s insistence that Planned Parenthood should not receive funding to service HIV programs has resulted in fewer places for people to turn.

    Right-wing media frequently call for eliminating all government funding to Planned Parenthood, pushing the myth that doing so wouldn't impact service provision. But in reality, Planned Parenthood provides a variety of medical services and is an important -- and sometimes the only -- resource for communities most impacted by HIV.

    Earlier this month, The Texas Observer reported that Harris County -- which had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2014 -- hadn’t conducted any HIV tests since ending a nearly 30-year-old contract with Planned Parenthood in December. When announcing the contract termination, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) told lawmakers that it expects “healthcare to benefit from these changes.” Planned Parenthood had previously received $600,000 annually to provide “HIV screenings in the Houston area, including in Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties,” while “specifically tailoring” its services to reach populations in the “Harris County jail, local bars and nightclubs, and college campuses.” Yet since canceling Planned Parenthood’s contract, equal replacements have not been funded. For example, as the Observer reported, Harris County’s health department had received less than half of the amount previously allocated to Planned Parenthood and was “still in the planning stages for its [HIV prevention] program.” The disruption in Harris County’s HIV program is similar to the problem Texas officials created last year when they removed Planned Parenthood from the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, leaving the Waco area without a provider.

    Meanwhile, Ohio state officials may create a similar disruption in Stark County’s HIV prevention programs due to a new law that redirects $1.3 million in funding away from Planned Parenthood clinics to providers that don’t offer abortion. This law has a potential impact on all Planned Parenthood clinics, not just those that provide abortion, including a clinic in Stark County that has received state funding for HIV prevention “for decades.” In March, the Ohio Department of Health sent the Canton city health department a letter saying that because of the new law, it could no longer work with “agencies that promote or perform nontherapeutic abortions.” A federal judge has temporarily blocked implementation of the law, pending a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. One of the findings in the judge’s order was:

    Plaintiffs explain that only certified and trained HIV testers can provide testing under the HIV Prevention Program, and officials in Canton have reported that they have not been able to locate a replacement for [Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio] under this program.

    As The Repository reported, Canton health officials saw benefits to contracting with Planned Parenthood for HIV testing, specifically because people would feel comfortable going there for care:

    Canton City Health Commissioner James Adams said the health department wants to test lots of people and reach diverse populations, and not everyone feels comfortable going to a governmental agency for testing. He said finding an agency that addresses a similar population to Planned Parenthood would pose a challenge.

    Removing Planned Parenthood from programs for HIV testing already had disastrous results for Scott County, Indiana. In 2011, Indiana passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. As a result, five clinics closed, leaving Scott County without an HIV testing center during an exploding HIV crisis.

    Right-wing media figures who advocate for cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood are ignoring the evidence that this country’s health care problems worsen as a result. When news outlets propagate misinformation about defunding Planned Parenthood, it doesn’t just impact those who seek abortion care, but also punishes the poorest and most marginalized communities in the country.

  • Ten Must-Read Stories On The Impact Of Texas' HB 2

    Patients and Providers Explain What’s At Stake In Supreme Court’s Landmark Abortion Rights Case

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & NINA MAST

    When the Supreme Court releases its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the landscape of abortion access will be altered in Texas and beyond. Before reporting on the potential consequences of the court’s decision, reporters should read these 10 stories about the challenges some people face in obtaining an abortion, told in patients’ and providers’ own words.

  • The Economic Barriers To Abortion Access That Conservatives Don’t Want To Talk About

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    When the Supreme Court releases its opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt this June, the landscape of abortion rights in the United States will be fundamentally altered -- for better or for worse.

    Pro-choice advocates have called Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt “the most consequential case for abortion rights in this country since Roe v. Wade.” The case itself challenges the constitutionality of Texas’ HB 2 -- a sweeping anti-choice bill that severely limits access to abortion and medical care. HB 2 requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, and that clinics themselves meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) in order to remain operational.

    Proponents claim these restrictions are medically necessary to protect the health and safety of women during abortions -- a claim echoed throughout right-wing media and by other anti-choice legislators. Texas lawmakers pushing for the legislation in 2013 capitalized on myths from anti-choice extremists about abortion safety to insist abortion providers required increased regulations. At the time, media gave this claim further oxygen by promoting the misinformation that HB 2’s restrictions were medically necessary. In the years since the bill’s passage Fox News has continued to advance the claim that these anti-choice restrictions improve clinic safety without impeding access to care.

    In reality, these restrictions are based on medically inaccurate information, and they serve only to further limit already marginalized communities’ access to abortion by building on pre-existing economic barriers to care.

    Even without HB 2, the economics of abortion access are complicated, greatly disadvantaging marginalized communities. According to Salon’s Christina Cauterucci, “Studies show that poor women take up to three weeks longer than other women to secure an abortion” partly because of the time necessary to gather the money for the procedure. She continued that “the further along the fetus, the more expensive her abortion will be and the more likely she is to experience health complications.”

    For many low-income patients, however, federal funding restrictions have already created a significant barrier to accessing necessary funds for abortion services. For example, the Hyde Amendment greatly disadvantages low-income communities by blocking use of federal Medicaid funds to cover abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. In a July 2015 report, the National Women’s Law Center explained that the Hyde Amendment puts low-income persons at a substantial financial disadvantage in obtaining abortions, and it says they “may have to postpone paying for other basic needs like food, rent, heating, and utilities in order to save the money needed for an abortion.”

    This financial challenge adds to the usual barrage of anti-choice restrictions already complicating access to abortion care. Between mandatory waiting periods, long wait times to get an appointment, and the great distances many patients must travel to reach a clinic, abortion care is already tenuously out of reach for many. As Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, explained during a June 7 press call, HB 2 means there is “a situation in Texas where a right exists on paper, but it is out of reach for a tremendous amount of Texas women.”

    Yet media frequently ignore or underestimate the impact of these barriers when talking about abortion. In a recent study, Media Matters analyzed 14 months of evening cable news, looking at discussions of abortion. We found that only eight news segments mentioned the economic barriers women face to accessing reproductive health care -- and even those discussed it only briefly. Although much of the media coverage of abortion restrictions hasn’t emphasized the significance of economic barriers to abortion care, clinic accessibility has been a central aspect of the legal debate over Texas’ HB 2.

    During oral arguments on March 2, Justice Elena Kagan described HB 2 as “the perfect controlled experiment” for what will happen if extensive anti-choice restrictions are allowed to take effect. Before Texas lawmakers passed HB 2, there were more than 40 clinics in Texas providing abortion services. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, “that number has dwindled to 19,” with even more clinics at risk. Indeed, as Eesha Pandit reported for Salon, if HB 2 is upheld, “there would be 10 clinics left in Texas, a state of 27 million people,” and there would be “more than 500 miles between San Antonio and the New Mexico border without a single clinic.”

    In a series of studies, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) evaluated the impact of HB 2 on Texas women’s access to abortion care. In a November 2014 study, TxPEP researchers predicted that if the Supreme Court upholds HB 2, “abortion self-induction will increase” in Texas. Researchers further reported that at the time of the study, between 100,000 and 240,000 Texas women between the ages of 18 and 49 had already attempted to self-induce an abortion. In a January 2015 study, researchers conducted a series of interviews with women “who either had their abortion appointments cancelled when clinics closed or who sought care at closed clinics" following the passage of HB 2. According to a news release about the study, researchers found that because of HB 2, access to care was “delayed, and in some cases [patients were] prevented altogether” from obtaining an abortion.

    Dr. Daniel Grossman, a co-author in both TxPEP findings on HB 2's effects on patients, explained that the bulk of TxPEP’s research "demonstrates that the sudden closure of clinics created significant obstacles to obtain care, forcing some women to obtain abortion later than they wanted, which increases the risks and cost." Grossman added that if HB 2 remains in effect, the undue burden on women would grow, as "wait times to get an appointment will likely increase in most cities across the state, as they recently have in Dallas and Ft. Worth, because the 10 remaining facilities will not be able to meet the demand for services statewide."

    These clinic closures have had a disproportionately large impact on Texas’ substantial Latina population. In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court about the impact of HB 2, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) cited previous District Court decisions to argue that due to the geographic locations of remaining providers, for many Latina women, clinic closures are “a complete ban on abortion.” Research by the NLIRH indicates that disparities in Latinas’ access to health are now so dire that they could constitute “violations against basic human rights.” Beyond abortion care, research shows that such laws exacerbate the “significant geographic, transportation, infrastructure, and cost challenges in accessing health services” for Texas Latinas more broadly.

    As Tina Vasquez reported for Rewire, the impact of HB 2 on undocumented persons would be even more extreme. She wrote that “while a person’s citizenship status affects her ability to access health care throughout the United States, this is especially true in Texas, which has the second-highest undocumented population in the country and some of the nation’s harshest anti-immigration laws.” According to Ana Rodriguez DeFrates, NLIRH’s state policy and advocacy director, internal immigration checkpoints mean “if you’re undocumented, you simply couldn't get to the heart of the state where abortion access is available.”

    The potential impact of HB 2 extends far beyond Texas. All four of the mostly likely positions the Supreme Court could take in deciding Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt would have wide-reaching implications for clinic access across the country. As Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, explained, HB 2 represents “a watershed moment in the battle for reproductive rights.” She continued that if the Supreme Court rejects HB 2 it would “protect the health and safety of women and put a stop to the onslaught of laws restricting access to safe and legal abortion.”

    For people in Texas, however, HB 2 has already had a decidedly negative impact. Writing in The New York Times, Valerie Peterson recounted the challenges she faced trying to access safe and affordable abortion care in Texas:

    Nearly six months after my abortion I still carry the scars of the experience — not of the procedure itself, which was a blessing I will never regret, but of how hard it was to get the care I needed in the state where I live.

    [...]

    After my doctor called the clinic, I was told I would have to wait three to four weeks for the next available appointment. There was no way I could wait that long. Not only would I be carrying a baby I knew wouldn’t survive, but that kind of wait could push me past the 20-week mark after which almost all abortions are illegal in Texas.

    My doctor was able to find me an appointment the following week instead. But when I found out the procedure would then take three to four days to complete as a result of other restrictions that include mandatory counseling, a required sonogram and an additional 24-hour waiting period, I broke down.

    I didn’t know how I was going to make it that long. One unnecessary additional day was one more than I could bear.

    Through a friend, I was connected to a clinic in Florida that caters to women who are terminating for medical reasons, and I spoke to the doctor and nurse there. The doctor explained that Florida didn’t have a 24-hour waiting period, and they could get me in the next day.

    I booked the first plane ticket I found. I got a hotel room and rental car. I flew to Florida on Friday, and my procedure was over by Saturday afternoon. Including the cost of the procedure, I had to spend close to $5,000.

    I remember thinking: What happens to women in my situation who don’t have the ability to do what I just did? My heart aches for those women.

    * Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan 

  • From Right-Wing Media Myth To Oral Arguments In A Landmark Abortion Case

    Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Myths About Abortion Made It To The Supreme Court In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In June 2016, the Supreme Court will release its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a controversial case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law (HB 2) that severely limits access to abortion and medical care. Right-wing media have alleged that HB 2 is necessary to protect women’s health and prevent another “Kermit Gosnell scandal” -- talking points that made their way into Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller’s defense of HB 2 during oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

  • The Tennessean: Rep. Blackburn’s Panel Investigating Fetal Tissue Donation “Is Embroiled In A Wild Goose Chase”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On June 12, The Tennessean’s editorial board wrote that the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had so far failed to find a “smoking gun” proving the existence of “an illicit market for fetal tissue or parts.” Thus the board argued that “the panel would do best to wrap up its work quickly.”

    The select panel was formed after the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress released a series of deceptively edited videos, which baselessly alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue. But 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have investigated the allegations and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing while a Texas grand jury indicted CMP’s founder and an associate for the fraudulent actions they took in making the videos. Nevertheless, the panel’s Republican members have repeatedly relied upon material taken from the discredited group as “evidence” of supposed wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. While Blackburn told The Tennessean that the panel wants to “get to the truth” about fetal tissue donation policies, the editorial board wrote, “Right now, the panel is creating the perception that it is embroiled in a wild goose chase.”

    From The Tennessean’s June 12 editorial:

    The origin of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives chaired by Congressman Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, emanated from a false narrative.

    The 14-member bipartisan panel has pivoted since doctored video claimed dishonestly that Planned Parenthood trafficked in fetal parts and organs — the reason the panel was approved by Congress in the first place in October.

    Over the past few months, the panel has fallen into mission creep and it needs to regain its focus if it is going to be taken seriously.

    The panel has:

    • Issued subpoenas to nearly a dozen companies, medical professionals or health organizations.

    • Targeted biomedical company StemExpress, which purchases fetal tissue from abortion clinics and sells it to medical research organizations.

    • Announced it was investigating a Maryland late-term abortion doctor, potentially putting him in danger by naming him and his clinic.

    […]

    Blackburn downplayed the Planned Parenthood connection saying she had requested no documents from or issued subpoenas to the health organization.

    That tone was in stark contrast to an op-ed she penned in U.S. News and World Report on Nov. 10 when emotions were still running high from the scandal over the doctored videos. She started her op-ed, writing:

    “The abhorrent videos released over the last several months detailing abortion practices and treatment of infant lives have shaken and startled compassionate Americans across the country. These videos raise serious questions that deserve a thorough examination, as people have reacted with disgust as they have seen the video footage.”

    […]

    Anyone — pro-choice or pro-life — should be horrified at the thought of an illicit market for fetal parts.

    However, if it does not exist, the panel would do best to wrap up its work quickly.

    Right now, the panel is creating the perception that it is embroiled in a wild goose chase.

  • GOP Chair Of Select Panel Pushes CMP-Linked Material To Attack Fetal Tissue Donation

    Chairman Blackburn Continues Panel GOP Members’ Habit Of Using Discredited Anti-Choice Group’s Material As Evidence

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In a June 10 speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, the chairman of the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), used documents taken from the discredited anti-choice group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) to attack the fetal tissue donation process. Since its inception in response to deceptively edited CMP videos, the select panel has utilized a number of CMP documents to allege wrongdoing by abortion providers and tissue procurement companies.

  • Fox News Hyped Ohio AG’s False Claims About Planned Parenthood But Didn’t Report That They Cost The State Over $45,000

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    In December 2015, when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine argued that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill,” Fox News covered his baseless allegations. In contrast, no Fox News show followed up to note that Ohio taxpayers would cover $45,447 in legal fees Planned Parenthood incurred while fighting the attorney general’s misleading claims about its practices.

    On December 11, DeWine held a press conference in which he alleged that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were illegally “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill.” DeWine issued his claims after the state conducted a five-month investigation into Planned Parenthood, spurred by allegations made by the now-discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that abortion providers were illegally selling fetal tissue. While DeWine concluded that fetal tissue was not being sold, he said his office discovered that Planned Parenthood’s means of fetal tissue disposal violated state law requiring that fetal remains be “disposed of in a humane manner.”

    State media called into question DeWine’s so-called “investigation” findings. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote that “it is hard to overlook the political theater at work” in DeWine’s allegations. The Columbus Dispatch noted that no Ohio abortion clinic had ever been cited for improper handling of fetal remains. WBNS-10TV in Columbus, OH, also reported that the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection said that no intact fetuses were buried there, that the disposal company and landfill have not been cited for any legal violations, and that nobody from the attorney general's office had contacted the Kentucky facilities to investigate.

    But while Ohio state media dug into the substance of DeWine’s remarks about Planned Parenthood, Fox News instead provided a platform for DeWine to further his baseless allegations. Fox News co-host Martha MacCallum interviewed DeWine during the December 15 edition of America’s Newsroom, where he reiterated his claims that fetal remains were “taken to a landfill in Kentucky and dumped in that landfill.” He went on to say that his office “think[s] [Planned Parenthood clinics] are in violation of the law.” MacCallum told DeWine: “It strikes me that what this story and what the investigation that you’ve done, it sheds more light on the realities of this process, which a lot of people just really, frankly, don’t want to know more about because it’s very difficult to even think about.”

    In addition to Fox News, other right-wing media sites piled on with headlines about “steam-cooked” fetuses being “illegally dump[ed]” into landfills. (And neither of those outlets reported on the resulting cost to taxpayers either.)

    Shortly after DeWine made his remarks, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block any attempts by DeWine to impede access to abortion services. After a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, DeWine ended the state’s legal actions with those claims. However, the process DeWine launched ended up costing Planned Parenthood $45,447 in legal fees, which Ohio state officials agreed to pay in a settlement -- meaning Ohio taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the attorney general’s unfounded claims, a consequence Fox News hasn’t covered. While Fox News has called for investigations based solely on CMP videos, the network doesn’t provide equal time when those investigations find no wrongdoing while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

    By amplifying the false allegations while not reporting on the consequences, right-wing media are spreading lies and distortions.

  • Congressional GOP Issue Letters That Rely On "Evidence" From Discredited Anti-Choice Group

    The Select Investigative Panel On Infant Lives Again Tries To Use Documents From CMP To Attack Fetal Tissue Research

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 1, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chairman of the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, released two letters and a press release calling for an investigation into “potential violations of federal law” by the tissue procurement company, StemExpress, and several abortion providers. Like previous claims made by Republicans on the select panel, the letters relied heavily on documents taken directly from the discredited work of the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

  • MSNBC's Maddow Was The Only Show That Warned About Anti-Abortion Violence Before Colorado Springs Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Despite the alarming uptick in violent attacks against abortion providers in 2015, MSNBC’S The Rachel Maddow Show was the only evening cable news program to cover the topic prior to the deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on November 27, according to a new Media Matters study.

    Media Matters analyzed 14 months of cable evening news programs from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, looking for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion. Within those segments, we examined whether any speaker made a reference to past or present violence, threats, or harassment targeting abortion clinics or providers. Over the course of the study, we found 148 news segments including such a reference, but 94 percent of those segments aired after the November 27 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. Of the three networks included -- CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show contained the only coverage of recent attacks prior to November 27, airing four reports about incidents of violence directed at clinics or providers.

    The attacks in 2015 were far from the first time violence had been directed at an abortion clinic or provider. While the smear campaign the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) instigated against Planned Parenthood was followed by a dramatic increase in the number of direct threats of harm to abortion providers from previous years, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been tracking violence and threats directed at abortion providers since 1977. In fact, The Rachel Maddow Show’s first report on an attack on a clinic occurred prior to the release of the Center for Medical Progress’ first video. The March 23, 2015, edition of Maddow included an extensive report on an attack on the security cameras of the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. This coverage was consistent with Maddow’s overall programming, which has consistently taken the violent threats against abortion providers and clinics seriously.

    Following the release of CMP’s videos, the FBI reported that there was a marked uptick in violence and threats “directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” and multiple clinics were damaged by arson and vandalism. But a previous study released by Media Matters in October 2015 found that cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country largely did not cover those incidents. The sole exemption Media Matters found on evening cable news at the time was a report during the September 8 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.

    The Rachel Maddow Show aired another report on attacks on Planned Parenthood on October 22. The report focused on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, NH, which actually did not provide abortions, where a person broke in and used a hatchet to destroy computers and more, requiring a six-week closure for repairs.

    In addition to airing reports on recent incidents of vandalism or arson directed at clinics, just three days prior to the deadly attack on Planned Parenthood, The Rachel Maddow Show presented an extensive report on the connections between an organization called Operation Rescue and incidents of violence directed at abortion providers. The reason for Maddow’s report was that Operation Rescue’s president, Troy Newman, who served on the board of CMP, had endorsed then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz on November 19. Cruz said he was “grateful” to receive the endorsement and that the country “need[s] leaders like Troy Newman.”

    Prior to November 27, four other cable news programs had segments that briefly mentioned Operation Rescue’s connections to CMP and violence. Two such segments aired on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, and two aired on Fox News’ The Kelly File. All those references were made by pro-choice guests on the programs.

    The Rachel Maddow Show was the only evening cable news program that aired a report from a network host on the topic of violence, threats or harassment directed against abortion providers prior to November 27.

  • Fox News: Where An Indicted Anti-Abortion Extremist Can Go To Push Lies

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Fox’s evening news programs routinely misinform viewers on reproductive rights issues, disproportionately relying on extreme anti-choice figures and deceptive smear campaigns to deliver their message, according to a new Media Matters study. During a recent 14-month period, Fox News’ guests, hosts, and network correspondents all helped propagate the false claims that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue and used government funds to illegally pay for abortions, and that a series of deceptively edited videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) were accurate.

    Media Matters analyzed 14 months of Fox News’ evening programs, looking at discussions of abortion-related topics on the shows Special Report with Bret Baier, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity. Since July 15, 2015, Fox’s evening news programs have repeatedly spread CMP’s false allegations that Planned Parenthood was breaking laws in its handling of fetal tissue. Media Matters, a federal judge, an independent analysis, and numerous media outlets have found that CMP’s videos were deceptively edited (CMP was named Media Matters’ Misinformer of Year); 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have investigated the allegations and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing; and CMP’s founder and an associate were indicted for the fraudulent actions they took in making the videos.

    Nevertheless, Fox’s evening news programs have repeated CMP’s false claims as though they were true and falsely claimed that the videos were accurate.

    From July 15, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News evening show hosts, guests, and correspondents made 384 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was “harvesting,” or “profiting” from the sale of, fetal tissue and 378 statements or claims that CMP’s videos or work were accurate, even going as far as to refer to the discredited smear campaign as “journalism.” In contrast, Fox’s hosts, guests, and correspondents made only 55 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was not, in fact, selling fetal tissue and 84 statements or claims that CMP’s videos weren’t accurate.

    Fox News helped CMP not only by repeatedly reporting on, replaying, or commenting on 11 of CMP’s deceptively edited videos, but also by hosting the person responsible for the entire smear campaign, David Daleiden, seven times from July 15 through September 4, including in an hour-long Fox News Special, “Hidden Harvest,” which was devoted to the group’s baseless allegations. Daleiden appeared seven times on Fox’s evening news programs during the course of the study, and he has also made additional appearances since the study ended in March.

    And Daleiden wasn’t the only self-identified anti-choice person featured on the network. Fox’s evening news programs overwhelmingly favored those who identify as anti-choice versus those who identify as pro-choice. In segments on Fox’s evening news programs that discussed abortion or abortion-related topics, people who self-identify as anti-choice made up 36 percent of appearances, whereas people who self-identify as pro-choice comprised only 6 percent.

    Media Matters also ran a secondary analysis on whether individuals who didn’t explicitly identify as anti-choice more often cited statements containing accurate or inaccurate information about four types of prevalent misinformation about abortion, Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress. We found that those who consistently cited anti-choice statements accounted for 9 percent of appearances and those who mostly cited anti-choice statements accounted for 25 percent of appearances. All combined, 70 percent of appearances on Fox News evening programs were made by people who either self-identified as anti-choice or consistently or mostly made anti-choice statements, compared to the combined 5 percent of appearances by either pro-choice-identified or pro-choice-leaning people.

    Overall, Fox also shared nearly two dozen times the false claim that Planned Parenthood uses Medicaid funding to pay for abortions outside of the legal limitations, spreading the claim (without countering it in equal measure) on Hannity and The O’Reilly Factor.  Additionally, any time a person on a Fox evening news program asserted -- or cited a claim -- that some kinds of birth control act as abortifacients, no speaker in the segment challenged those statements or discussed the medical community’s consensus that no contraceptive device or medication currently available is equivalent to an abortion.

  • It Took A Deadly Attack For CNN To Make Time For Pro-Choice Advocates In Its Slanted Abortion Discussions

    Over A 14-Month Period,  Anti-Choice Guests Dominated CNN’s Reproductive Rights Programming On Evening Shows

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    In 2015 and early 2016, CNN hosted more than twice as many anti-choice guests as pro-choice guests on its evening news programs, according to a new Media Matters study. CNN also didn’t host any reproductive rights advocates as guests until November’s fatal attack on a Colorado Springs, CO, Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Media Matters analyzed CNN’s evening news programs from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion. We found that CNN’s programs included more people who self-identified as anti-choice (47) than as pro-choice (18) -- all of them guests, as opposed to hosts or correspondents -- in conversations about abortion-related topics.

    While CNN’s evening news programs included guests who personally identified as pro-choice, they didn’t include anyone who works as an advocate for reproductive rights as part of a discussion about abortion until there was a deadly attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on November 27. In fact, 36 percent of CNN’s total coverage of abortion-related topics over the 14-month study period -- which was also the least of the three major cable news networks -- occurred on that night. The two appearances by pro-choice advocates on CNN were made by representatives of Planned Parenthood, who appeared on November 27 and November 30 to discuss the attack on their clinic.

    In contrast, CNN’s evening news programs hosted anti-choice advocate Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, four times before the attack.

    In addition to the guest imbalance, CNN’s evening news programs did not discuss any violence, threats or harassment directed against abortion clinics or providers prior to November 27 -- not even the four separate arson attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics that occurred in the span of 74 days in 2015. A previous study released by Media Matters in October 2015 also found that cable news shows and leading newspapers around the country largely did not cover the incidents.

    The National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been tracking violence and threats directed at abortion providers since 1977, and the organization issued a report in April detailing a dramatic increase in the number of direct threats of harm in 2015 from the previous years, a disturbing upward trend the FBI has confirmed. NARAL president Ilyse Hogue criticized the press for providing insufficient coverage of the epidemic of attacks, saying outlets "need to report these incidents as what they are: domestic terrorism" or they will be giving "extremists the cover to regressively and violently attack women, their access to health care, and the medical professionals who provide it."

  • Who Are The Anti-Choice Activists On Evening Cable?

    Meet the Anti-Choice Figures Who Appear Most Often To Spread Misinformation About Abortion

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In 2015 and early 2016, evening cable news programming featured three anti-choice activists a total of 23 times, despite these guests’ consistent efforts to spread misinformation and outright falsehoods about Planned Parenthood, reproductive health care, and abortion access. According to a new Media Matters study, all 23 of these appearances occurred on Fox, which during this same timespan hosted only a single advocate representing a pro-choice organization.

    Media Matters analyzed 14 months of evening cable programming, examining details including the frequency with which people who self-identified as anti-choice were involved in discussions about abortion and reproductive rights.

    From January 1, 2015, to March 6, 2016, the three anti-choice activists who appeared the most on evening cable news programs were Lila Rose and David Daleiden -- both notorious for their discredited attempts to smear Planned Parenthood using deceptively edited videos -- along with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an extremist hate group. Collectively, these three anti-choice activists appeared a total of 23 times on Fox News’ evening programs to talk about abortion-related topics.

    Dishonorable mentions also go to Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, another infamous extremist with ties to anti-choice violence. Each of these speakers appeared at least once to attack Planned Parenthood and spread misinformation about reproductive health.

    The Anti-Choice Speakers Who Appeared The Most Often On Evening Cable Programs To Talk About Abortion

    1. Lila Rose, Live Action

    Lila Rose, the president and founder of the anti-choice group Live Action, was the most frequent anti-choice guest to appear during evening cable programming, with 10 appearances over 14 months. Rose is best known for her connections to right-wing activists and her long, disreputable history of perpetrating hoaxes and concocting false allegations against abortion providers.

    These allegations have been repeatedly debunked and proved to be unfounded.

    According to a 2009 profile in the Los Angeles Times, Rose began her career partnered with right-wing activist James O’Keefe in 2006. O’Keefe had a history of attempting to smear liberal organizations by using doctored undercover video, but the two “came up with the idea to infiltrate clinics” after being “inspired by the work of Mark Crutcher, a Texas anti-abortion activist who in 2002 taped faked calls to hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Rose has staged (and illicitly filmed) conversations with Planned Parenthood providers and staff while masquerading as a young woman seeking an abortion. She then heavily edited these conversations to allege that Planned Parenthood engaged in a variety of systemic criminal activities.

    Beyond O’Keefe, Rose has been supported by a larger infrastructure of right-wing media and anti-choice organizations. For example, when Rose released her deceptive videos in February 2011, Fox News provided frequent coverage. Rose herself appeared on Fox to promote the videos multiple times in the months that followed. Rose has also greatly benefited from the “generous assistance” of “powerful players” on the right such as anti-LGBT legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom and the Gerard Health Foundation -- an organization known for promoting fringe views on birth control, sex education, and reproductive rights. In 2008, Rose received the anti-choice group Operation Rescue’s Person of the Year award, and she also previously employed David Daleiden as Live Action’s director of research.

    Rose also has a history of making extreme comments about abortion, such as that the procedure should be “done in the public square” so that people could experience outrage and then “hear angels singing as we ponder the glory of conception.” Rose has also attacked abortion providers, once calling Planned Parenthood “the single most evil organization in human history” and alleging that they provide abortions on behalf of Satan.

    2. David Daleiden, Center For Medical Progress

    David Daleiden is the founder and “project lead” at the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating an extensive smear campaign against Planned Parenthood so fraudulent that CMP earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. After CMP released its first deceptively edited video in July 2015, Daleiden appeared seven times on evening cable news programs over the next nine months to promote the false allegations that Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal tissue.

    CMP’s videos have been consistently discredited while over 13 state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. On January 25, a Houston grand jury, which was called upon to investigate allegations made by CMP, decided not to take action against Planned Parenthood and instead indicted Daleiden and one of his associates for using fraudulent means to gain access to Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. Likewise, a federal judge determined that CMP’s work constituted “misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal misconduct.”

    Daleiden is not only well-connected to other anti-choice extremist groups; he also enjoys support from conservative media. Daleiden has used this media prominence as an opportunity to attack abortion providers. For example, in an interview on Glenn Beck’s radio program, Daleiden described one provider as “evil” and having “the predator look … that you see in someone who is accustomed to killing people.” Even when right-wing media have not given Daleiden himself a platform, they have frequently carried water for his misleading allegations.

    CMP’s work has also prompted a variety of baseless congressional investigations and multiple efforts by anti-choice legislators to defund Planned Parenthood at the state and federal level. Most recently, the congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives -- established by Republicans in October 2015 to investigate fetal tissue donation practices -- has extensively relied on “evidence” pulled directly from CMP’s website and deceptively edited videos to allege wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

    According to the National Abortion Federation (NAF), harassment, violence, and threats against abortion providers and clinics have all been increasing. NAF’s 2015 statistics confirm that “the sharp rise in threats and violence in 2015 ... directly correlates to the release of inflammatory videos aimed at demonizing providers.”

    3. Tony Perkins, Family Research Council

    With six appearances over the span of 14 months, Tony Perkins -- an extremist hate group leader -- was the third-most hosted anti-choice advocate. Perkins is president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBT group that was listed as a “hate group” in 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its role in propagating known falsehoods about LGBT people.

    In addition to Perkins’ anti-choice views, he also has a history of making inflammatory comments about the LGBT community. For example, Perkins has equated being gay with using drugs and committing adultery, accused gay people of attempting to “recruit” children, and compared gay advocates to terrorists. As president of FRC, he has repeated the extensively debunked myth that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem,” argued in favor of the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “reparative therapy,” and falsely claimed that children are harmed by having same-sex parents.

    Perkins is responsible for organizing key evangelical support behind former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Perkins served on the former candidate’s “Pro-Lifers for Cruz Coalition” alongside known anti-choice extremist Troy Newman. Cruz has made no secret of his disdain for Planned Parenthood, or of his support for David Daleiden and CMP’s smear campaign.

    Dishonorable Mentions -- Other Anti-Choice Activists Hosted By Fox

    1. Jay Sekulow, American Center For Law And Justice

    Jay Sekulow is the chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) -- a conservative anti-choice legal group that is defending former CMP board member Troy Newman in a lawsuit filed by the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Sekulow has been a vocal opponent of Planned Parenthood funding and the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    Following CMP’s release of deceptively edited video, Sekulow joined anti-choice legislators and extremists in calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Beyond attacking Planned Parenthood, Sekulow and the ACJL have frequently defended Daleiden and CMP as “investigative journalists.” A grand jury, a federal judge, and many journalists have rejected this characterization.

    Sekulow is also a proponent of Senate Republicans' ongoing obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and he has suggested support for state policies that “punish” people for obtaining an abortion. In an April 1 edition of his radio show, Sekulow said that the idea of punishing people for receiving abortions was “not craziness” and that “for any other person that somebody killed, they’d be held culpable.”

    Sekulow also represented one of the plaintiffs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby -- the first challenge heard by the Supreme Court to the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the court found that certain classes of employer could not be compelled to include contraception in their employees’ insurance plans if doing so ran counter to the employers’ sincerely held religious beliefs. In explaining his client’s position, Sekulow wrongly argued that the ACA’s contraceptive mandate would include coverage of “abortion-inducing drugs.”

    Neither of his assertions is true.

    Medical experts agree that there are stark differences between emergency contraception and abortion procedures or drugs that act as "abortifacients." According to a March 2016 white paper from the Princeton University Office of Population Research, emergency contraception pills "do not interrupt an established pregnancy" and therefore “are not abortifacient[s]," in part because the medical consensus defines "implantation" as the beginning of a pregnancy.

    2. The Rev. Frank Pavone, Priests For Life

    The Rev. Frank Pavone is the national director of the Catholic anti-choice group Priests for Life. Pavone is well-connected to other anti-choice groups -- notably bragging about his “partnership with Operation Rescue” and the “close” relationship he enjoys with CMP. In his work, Pavone regularly insults abortion providers, attacks Planned Parenthood, and promotes the stigmatization of abortion.

    Pavone has a history of making extreme and false comments about abortion providers and reproductive rights advocates. For example, when the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, spoke at Georgetown University, Pavone argued that inviting Richards was akin to inviting “representatives of ISIS” to speak in order to “understand terrorism.” Similarly, when defending CMP’s work, Pavone wrongly accused abortion providers of “doing a lot of other evil things” as well. His examples were: “medical malpractice, sexual abuse of patients, violation of OSHA standards, insurance laws, money laundering, all kinds of fraud and, yes, even the sale of body parts.” In response to the deadly November 2015 attack on a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado, Pavone blamed supporters of abortion access for “poisoning the moral climate in our nation.”

    Despite Daleiden’s mounting legal troubles, Pavone has warned that “the troubles for Planned Parenthood have only just begun.” He has championed the efforts of anti-choice extremist Mark Crutcher -- who previously promised to train and “unleash a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate and baselessly attack reproductive health care providers.

    Pavone has also worked to stigmatize abortion, saying that anti-choice groups like his “exploit the stigma of abortion, we lift it up high for people to see, we reinforce it.” Abortion stigma is the shared idea that abortion is morally wrong or socially unacceptable, but in reality, abortion is an incredibly common procedure that 30 percent of women will undergo by age 45.

    3. Troy Newman, Operation Rescue

    Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue -- an extremist anti-choice group with a history of spouting violent rhetoric and harassing abortion providers, whose senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, was convicted of conspiring to bomb a clinic in 1987. A Rolling Stone profile of Operation Rescue described the organization’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.”

    To further this strategy, Newman has trained other anti-choice activists and supported the development of spin-off groups that continue Operation Rescue’s work across the country. He previously served as one of CMP’s founding board members before resigning after a Texas grand jury indicted Daleiden and one of his associates.

    Newman claims that Operation Rescue has never endorsed violence, yet in his book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman wrote that the U.S. government had “abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” which he said would involve “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Similarly, when Paul Jennings Hill was executed for the murder of an abortion provider and a clinic escort, Newman argued that Hill should have been able to mount the defense that it was “necessary” to kill the providers in order to save "the lives of pre-born babies." Operation Rescue's Sullenger also reportedly helped convicted murderer Scott Roeder keep track of legal proceedings for his eventual victim, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

    Beyond his work with Operation Rescue, Newman also has a personal history of harassing providers -- a reputation that caused Australia to deport him out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

  • STUDY: How Cable News Talks About Abortion

    Anti-Choice Speakers And Misinformation Dominate Abortion Coverage On Evening Cable News

    ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS & SHARON KANN

    A Media Matters study of 14 months of evening cable news programs found that discussions of abortion were weighted toward anti-choice speakers, which resulted in widespread misinformation on the topic. Of the three networks, Fox News aired the largest number of inaccurate statements about the most prevalent abortion-related myths, and MSNBC was the most accurate.

  • Washington Post: “It’s Time To Shut Down The Special Panel On Fetal Tissue Research”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Posts editorial board wrote that the congressional investigative panel created in the wake of the smear campaign against Planned Parenthood should be “shut down” because there is “no legitimate reason” for the panel’s existence. The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives was established by Republicans in Congress following the release of videos made by the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress which baselessly allege fetal tissue was being illegally sold. The Washington Post's editorial board noted “as we now know, those videos are bunk, neither accurate nor reliable,” and multiple investigations have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. However, the Republican-led select panel has continued to rely upon so-called evidence collected by anti-choice activists and has “issued indiscriminate subpoenas [and] intimidated witnesses” as well as potentially put individuals at risk for targeting by anti-choice extremists by not safeguarding their names. Without a “legitimate reason” for the panel’s work, the Post wrote, Speaker Paul Ryan should “should put an end to these sordid proceedings.”

    From The Washington Post’s May 27 editorial:

    Any doubt about the kind of investigation into fetal tissue research that would be conducted by a special House panel was erased at its first hearing, when one of the witnesses called by Republicans drew comparisons between this life-saving medical work and the experiments of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. And the panel has gone downhill since.

    The committee has issued indiscriminate subpoenas, intimidated witnesses and relied on misleading information. It is abusing power at taxpayer expense, and Democrats are right to demand its shutdown.

    […]

    There is no legitimate reason for this inquiry. Individuals and organizations are being unfairly targeted and placed at risk. [House Speaker Paul] Ryan, who took office with talk of wanting to change how the House does business, should put an end to these sordid proceedings.