Fox News figures invoked the trial of Kermit Gosnell to attack Planned Parenthood and President Obama, who is scheduled to address the organization this week.
On Fox's America Live, host Megyn Kelly and contributor Monica Crowley invoked the murder trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell to attack Obama and Planned Parenthood. During the segment, Kelly claimed Planned Parenthood was “under fire for reportedly knowing about some of the horror stories from the Gosnell clinic but not doing more with that information” and downplayed reports that Planned Parenthood officials encouraged women who complained about Gosnell's clinic to report their experiences to the Department of Health:
But Fox's attack on Planned Parenthood is based on a distortion of the actual story. Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, explained that Planned Parenthood staff was made aware of the clinic's conditions, but not necessarily the illegal activities that occurred there. When staff members were informed of these conditions, they encouraged patients to report them to the Department of Health.
In a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Steinberg confirmed that the reports of Gosnell's clinic were confined to complaints about “the uncleanliness of the facility”:
When Gosnell was arrested, I asked our staff if anyone had ever heard of him, and clinic staff members reported that a few women over the years said they were concerned about the uncleanliness of his facility and came to Planned Parenthood instead.
Our staff told these women that issues of cleanliness should be reported to state officials. If we had heard anything remotely like the conditions that have since come to light about Gosnell's facility, of course we would have alerted the state and other authorities.
Nobody who believes in good health care, access to safe and legal abortion, and respect for women would ever look at Kermit Gosnell's facility and call it a health-care center. He preyed on women in their most vulnerable moments.
Crowley also used the segment to revive a long-debunked smear of Obama: that during his tenure as an Illinois state senator, Obama repeatedly opposed protections for infants who were born alive. Crowley claimed Obama “actively opposed” legislation that would have “protect[ed] infants who were, as in these cases, born alive.” But Obama's votes against the bill were not because he opposed protecting living infants, but because the law was unnecessary, as Illinois criminal code already prohibited killing living children. Opponents of the bill pointed out that the legislation would not do anything to further protect infants, but could have posed a threat to reproductive rights.