Author Page | Page 2 | Media Matters for America

Alexandrea Boguhn

Author ››› Alexandrea Boguhn
  • UltraViolet Dispels Common Myths About Abortion

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    UltraViolet dispelled a series of common myths about abortion, explaining how despite claims that the procedure is uncommon and "cheap and easy to get," one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime -- even as restrictive legislation fueled by media myths is making the procedure more costly and logistically difficult to access.

    Conservative media have actively waged a misinformation campaign surrounding abortion, championing restrictive legislation that rolls back access to the procedure and ignoring medical experts who agree that such anti-choice measures are often based on medically inaccurate or outright false information.

    In a September 10 video, UltraViolet broke down some of the most common myths about abortion and the people who get them. The video explains that although "people think abortions aren't common" the truth is "one in three women will have one by the age of 45" and that although many say "abortions are cheap and easy to get," they can actually cost "an entire month's pay":

  • USA Today Calls Out State Abortion Restrictions For Eroding Women's Right To Choose

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    The USA Today editorial board blasted the state-led rollback of abortion access in the United States, explaining how it infringes on the right to choose and underscoring how the misinformation behind the influx of restrictive anti-choice legislation harms women.

    According to a July report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have already "enacted 51 new abortion restrictions," bringing "the number of restrictions enacted since 2010 to 282." The slew of anti-choice legislation has included measures roundly condemned as unnecessary and dangerous by medical experts, including "targeted regulation of abortion provider" bills (or TRAP laws), waiting periods, and early abortion bans.

    Conservative media's legacy of misinformation surrounding reproductive rights and health has paved the way for such legislation, championing measures that harm women even as experts speak out against them. Lauding restrictions that medical experts agree are based on medically inaccurate or outright false information, conservative media have worked tirelessly to build a platform of falsehoods for the restrictive legislation to build upon.

    USA Today underscored the dangerous ramifications of such policies in a September 7 editorial, writing that "the right to an abortion  -- guaranteed 42 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court -- has been saddled with so many onerous strictures in so many states that for millions of women, it has become almost meaningless." Pointing to restrictive anti-choice policies in states such as Texas, where "abortion foes, in the guise of making abortion safer" passed legislation that shut down more than half of the state's abortion providers, the editorial board explained how the laws have posed an "undue burden" on women, making abortion all but inaccessible in many states:

    A constitutional right that's almost impossible to exercise isn't much of a right at all. Yet the right to an abortion -- guaranteed 42 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court -- has been saddled with so many onerous strictures in so many states that for millions of women, it has become almost meaningless.

    Nowhere is that more evident than in Texas, where abortion foes, in the guise of making abortion safer, have passed laws that forced half of the state's clinics to shut down. In 2012, Texas had 41 abortion providers; today, there are fewer than 20.

    [...]

    Women in some parts of Texas must travel hundreds of miles round-trip to exercise their rights, thanks to the law requiring that all clinics meet hospital-like standards for surgery centers and that all providers affiliate with hospitals. Both requirements might sound reasonable, but a federal judge found the building standards so tangential "to patient safety ... as to be nearly arbitrary." And two major medical groups say obtaining hospital privileges adds "no medical benefit" for patients, who could be harmed by having less access to safe abortions.

    [...]

    "Undue burden" might be hard to define. But the justices ought to know it when they see it, as Justice Potter Stewart famously said of pornography. Women should not have to wait days, listen to forced lectures, drive hundreds of miles or do battle in court repeatedly to access a right guaranteed long ago by the highest court in the land.

  • Media Highlight How Upholding Texas' Restrictive Anti-Abortion Legislation Would Harm Women

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Media outlets are highlighting the drastic consequences that implementing Texas' House Bill 2 (HB2) -- a law restricting women's access to safe, legal abortions by imposing "several medically unnecessary requirements" on providers -- would have on women in the state trying to access reproductive health care after news broke that Texas abortion providers have asked the Supreme Court to a hear a challenge to the restrictions.

  • Erick Erickson: If Republicans Won't Defund Planned Parenthood, "They Should Be Destroyed"

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Fox News contributor Erick Erickson called for the destruction of the Republican party if they "will not fight" to defund Planned Parenthood, writing that if they fail to do so "we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on their remains (metaphorically speaking, of course)."

    Calls from conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood have grown louder since The Center for Medical Progress released nine videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood "selling aborted baby parts." Although the videos have been roundly called out by the media for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and containing selectively edited footage -- and multiple state and federal investigations have cleared the health care provider of any wrongdoing -- the videos nonetheless continue to prompt calls to defund the reproductive health organization.

    In a September 3 post, Erickson, editor-in chief of RedState.com -- who previously encouraged individuals to show Republicans in Congress "violence in the polling booth" if they don't defund Planned Parenthood -- took the calls even further, demanding that the Republican party be "destroyed" should they fail to follow-through with the move. Erickson wrote that if Republicans "are not willing to defund Planned Parenthood, we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on the remains," and went on to say that if the party "will not fight this evil, it will fight no evil and should itself die":

    What we are learning now is that Republican leaders have no inclination to fight this evil. They have for years been protected by a Washington pro-life establishment that has worked damn hard to keep Bart Stupak listed as a pro-life warrior as he sold out the cause on Obamacare. The pro-life establishment in Washington puts their Republican affiliation ahead of children who are being ripped apart.

    [...]

    If Republicans and the Washington Pro-Life movement, when confronted by the evil documented on unedited tape, are not willing to defund Planned Parenthood, we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on the remains (metaphorically speaking, of course).

    Republicans in Washington have spent more time avoiding their constituents over the August recess than they have fighting for anything in the past several years. Now here is a perfect opportunity to stand up for smaller government, fight evil, and put the left on defense.

    Already there are voices on the right saying no, but then they always say no. Already there are voices on the right saying they can't, but then they always say they can't. Already there are voices on the right saying the President will veto it, but the President will always veto it.

    And the babies continue to die -- ripped from their mothers wombs and their organs harvested.

    If the Republicans will not fight this evil, they should be destroyed.

    Every Republican Presidential candidates should be on record on whether they think the GOP should hold the line against funding Planned Parenthood no matter what.

    If Republicans in Washington will not stop this and defund Planned Parenthood, Republican voters should take any and all action to destroy the party at the ballot box. If this party will not fight this evil, it will fight no evil and should itself die.

    Metaphorically speaking, of course.

  • Wash. Post's David Ignatius Explains The "Scandal" Missing From Clinton's Email Use

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius checked the "overstated" uproar over Hillary Clinton's email use as secretary of state, citing national security legal experts who roundly dismiss the idea that any criminal mishandling of classified information occurred.

    In an August 28 post describing "The Hillary Clinton e-mail 'scandal' that isn't," Ignatius cited legal experts and agency officials to explain how Clinton's use of a private server is "not something a prosecutor would take to court" and how transmitting unmarked, then retroactively classified emails does "almost certainly not" constitute a crime:  

    Does Hillary Clinton have a serious legal problem because she may have transmitted classified information on her private e-mail server? After talking with a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers, I think this "scandal" is overstated. Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it's not something a prosecutor would take to court.

    "It's common" that people end up using unclassified systems to transmit classified information, said Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who's now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.

    [...]

    Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state has been a nagging campaign issue for months. Critics have argued that the most serious problem is possible transmission of classified information through that server. Many of her former top aides have sought legal counsel. But experts in national-security law say there may be less here than it might appear.

    First, experts say, there's no legal difference whether Clinton and her aides passed sensitive information using her private server or the official "state.gov" account that many now argue should have been used. Neither system is authorized for transmitting classified information. Second, prosecution of such violations is extremely rare. Lax security procedures are taken seriously, but they're generally seen as administrative matters.

    [...]

    Informal back channels existed long before e-mail. One former State Department official recalled the days when most embassies overseas had only a few phones authorized for secret communications. Rather than go to the executive office to make such a call, officers would use their regular phones, bypassing any truly sensitive details. "Did we cross red lines? No doubt. Did it put information at risk? Maybe. But, if you weren't in Moscow or Beijing, you didn't worry much," this former official said.

    Back channels are used because the official ones are so encrusted by classification and bureaucracy. State had the "Roger Channel," named after former official Roger Hilsman, for sending secret messages directly to the secretary. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had a similar private channel. CIA station chiefs could send communications known as "Aardwolves" straight to the director.

    Are these channels misused sometimes? Most definitely. Is there a crime here? Almost certainly not.

    Ignatius also knocked down conservative media's oft-repeated refrain that Clinton's email use was akin to David Petraeus' crimes, noting how intent to mishandle classified information is central to culpability:

    Potential criminal violations arise when officials knowingly disseminate documents marked as classified to unauthorized officials or on unclassified systems, or otherwise misuse classified materials. That happened in two cases involving former CIA directors that are cited as parallels for the Clinton e-mail issue, but are quite different. John Deutch was pardoned in 2001 for using an unsecured CIA computer at his home to improperly access classified material; he reportedly had been prepared to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in April for "knowingly" removing classified documents from authorized locations and retaining them at "unauthorized locations." Neither case fits the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails.

  • Independent Analysis Finds Evidence of "Manipulation" In Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos

    Videos "Contain Intentionally Deceptive Edits, Missing Footage And Inaccurately Transcribed Conversations"

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Planned Parenthood

    An independent analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood and conducted by forensic experts has found evidence that the anti-choice organization, Center for Medical Progress (CMP), "manipulat[ed]" footage in both the edited and supposedly full-length videos it has released in its campaign to smear the health care provider.

    The Center for Medical Progress has released eight videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood "selling aborted baby parts." Although the videos have been roundly called out by the media for "show[ing] nothing illegal" and containing selectively-edited footage -- and multiple state and federal investigations have cleared the health care provider of any wrongdoing -- the videos nonetheless continue to prompt calls from conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood.

    The independent forensic analysis of CMP's short, edited videos, as well as what the group claimed are the full, unedited versions, provides the strongest proof yet that the anti-choice organization is manipulating the truth about Planned Parenthood. The analysis found that the videos "contain intentionally deceptive edits, missing footage and inaccurately transcribed conversations," according to an August 27 article from Politico, which obtained a copy of the report. The forensic analysis was conducted by independent transcription experts working for the research firm Fusion GPS, which was retained by Planned Parenthood. The experts found "42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes" and that "at least two of the filmed interviews with Planned Parenthood officials are missing at least 30 minutes of content":

    Fusion GPS outlined 42 instances in which CMP edited out content from the short as well as so-called full versions of the tapes, several of which were secretly recorded. The company also identified instances in which context was eliminated, minutes of film were deleted and transcripts released by CMP did not match what was said on the tapes.

    The report concludes that the degree of manipulation means the videos have no "evidentiary value" in a legal context, can't be used in "official inquiries" and lack credulity as journalism. Those findings are a direct response to CMP's arguments in court -- while fighting efforts to prevent it from releasing more video -- that it is protected by the First Amendment.

    But the firm also wrote that it is impossible to characterize the extent to which the edits and cuts distort the meaning of the conversations depicted and that there was no "widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation."

    [...]

    Fusion GPS found that at least two of the filmed interviews with Planned Parenthood officials are missing at least 30 minutes of content. It speculates that the cuts could include moments in which CMP activists, who were posing as representatives of a fictitious tissue procurement company, said things to lead the officials into damning statements

  • What The Media Show Know About Texas' Decision To Defund Cancer Screenings At Planned Parenthood Beginning Sept. 1

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    In a few days, Texas will cut off all public funding for critical women's health screening at 17 Planned Parenthood clinics across the state. The provision to eliminate state and federal funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings as of September 1 was included in the 2016-17 budget that the Texas legislature overwhelmingly approved in May. Media outlets planning to cover the story should know that this state-sanctioned denial of care will put the health of thousands of Texans at risk and disproportionately impact low-income women and Latinas.

  • The Crucial Context Missing From Politico's Interview With The Activist Behind The Planned Parenthood Smear Videos

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    Politico helped legitimize the Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) David Daleiden in a recent interview with the founder behind the anti-choice organization that released a string of deceptively edited videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood, failing to note how Daleiden's videos have been roundly exposed as highly edited and discredited and how CMP has ties to violent extremism.

    In an August 26 article, Politico interviewed anti-choice activist David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, about his organization's string of undercover videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood by falsely "accusing the women's health organization of illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue." The article highlighted Daleiden's attacks on Planned Parenthood and intent to push out "four more videos" ahead of the upcoming fight to pass a government spending bill, but failed to note that the videos have been debunked as highly edited. The article went on to provide no counter to Daleiden's assertions about Planned Parenthood's activities aside from a statement provided by the health care provider and note that it has "explicitly denied any illegal activity, saying it legally donates fetal tissue for medical research only after receiving patient consent." Instead, Politico claimed:

    Some had predicted diminishing returns if the shock value of the videos wore off, the group was discredited or the tapes simply stopped coming. But to the consternation of Planned Parenthood and its allies, that has yet to happen despite their insistence that the videos are full of distortions.

    But numerous media outlets and investigations have backed up Planned Parenthood's explanation that the organization has done nothing illegal. Multiple media outlets, including The New York Times¸ The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, have blasted the Center for Medical Progress' deceptively edited videos as the anti-choice organization continues to release them, noting that they show "nothing illegal" and that the full-footage contradicts allegations made in the shorter versions.

    After the first video was released, FactCheck.org also debunked CMP's claim that Planned Parenthood was "selling aborted baby parts," detailing how it was inaccurate and unfounded.

    What's more, a growing list of state and federal investigations have also thrown cold water on CMP's phony claim that Planned Parenthood receives a profit from fetal tissue donation. Despite investigations sparked by the string of deceptively edited videos being launched in at least 11 states, no evidence has yet been produced to back up CMP's assertions. The Department of Health and Human Services similarly found no violations of fetal tissue laws when it comes to tissue obtained from nonprofits after their own investigation.

    Presenting Daleiden as a legitimate voice ignores the activists ties to other discredited anti-choice organizations, as well his own Center for Medical Progress, that he has to noted extremists. Daleiden formerly acted as the director of research for the discredited anti-abortion group Live Action, which has been criticized before for deceptively editing undercover footage of abortion clinics in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Serving on the board of Daleiden's CMP sits another extremist -- Operation Rescue's President Troy Newman -- who previously called the murder of abortion clinic doctors a "justifiable defensive action" and stalked clinic workers.

  • 5 Things To Know About The Center for Medical Progress' Seventh Attempt To Smear Planned Parenthood

    Politico: "There Is Nothing In The Video ... To Support [These] Claims."

    ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    The seventh video from the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) falls flat in its attempt to smear Planned Parenthood, once again showing no clear evidence that the Planned Parenthood clinics broke any laws in obtaining fetal tissue donations from consenting patients. The latest video again relies on footage already debunked as highly edited, features conversations with third-party providers who acted as the middlemen between researchers and clinics, and relies heavily on the account of a technician who did not work for Planned Parenthood and who has been accused of violating her employment agreement with a third-party provider.

  • HHS And State Investigations Find No Violations Of Fetal Tissue Laws After Witch Hunt Sparked By Deceptively-Edited Videos

    Blog ››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

    The Department of Health and Human Services found no violations of fetal tissue laws when it comes to tissue obtained from nonprofits, joining a series of state investigations that have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing in response to CMP's deceptively-edited videos attempting to smear the women's health organization.

    According to an August 16 report from Politico, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found no violations of fetal tissue laws "among government researchers or the companies that supply the tissue" to them. In a letter to Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), the assistant secretary for legislation at HHS explained that they found "no violation of these laws in connection with research done at our agencies." Although "[v]ery little federal research is done with fetal tissue," the investigation was nonetheless sparked by the Center for Medical Progress' string of deceptively-edited videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood:

    The Obama administration says there are no known violations of the country's fetal tissue laws among government researchers or the companies that supply the tissue.

    "Currently, we know of no violation of these laws in connection with the research done at our agencies," Jim Esquea, assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, wrote in a letter to Sens. Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt, obtained by POLITICO. "Furthermore ... we have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

    Very little federal research is done with fetal tissue, but it has come under scrutiny since an anti-abortion group earlier this summer began releasing undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood was trafficking in fetal tissue and organs. Planned Parenthood has denied that, saying it facilitates legal tissue donation at a few of its locations.

    HHS is just the latest organization in a series of states that have found no evidence of wrongdoing when it comes to fetal tissue donation. After investigations sparked by the series of undercover videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood, probes in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota have found "Planned Parenthood affiliates to be in full compliance with the law," according to the Huffington Post. As the Post went on to explain, "Probes in other states, like Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, are unlikely to reveal evidence of illegal tissue donation practices, since those states' Planned Parenthood centers either don't participate in a tissue donation program, don't even have a center actively performing abortions in the state or are barred by state law from donating tissues in the first place. "

    These findings continue to underscore the flimsy nature of the Center for Medical Progress' false allegations that Planned Parenthood is "selling aborted baby parts" -- a claim that has been repeatedlcalled out and debunked by the media who point out that the videos show nothing more than officials discussing the legal reimbursement associated with tissue donation.