On October 16, Planned Parenthood celebrated 100 years of providing quality reproductive health care to millions of Americans. Despite the essential role Planned Parenthood has and continues to play in facilitating access to both primary and reproductive health care, right-wing media have frequently provided a platform for numerous smears and misinformation about the organization. Here are right-wing media’s favorite myths about Planned Parenthood.
On October 16, Planned Parenthood Celebrated 100 Years Of Providing Quality Care To “Millions Of Women And Men”
Huff. Post: On October 16, Planned Parenthood Celebrated It’s 100th Anniversary. On October 16, “Planned Parenthood turn[ed] 100” and celebrated becoming “a cornerstone of the American health care system,” Catherine Pearson wrote for The Huffington Post. As Pearson explained, since its inception, Planned Parenthood has grown from a single “birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn,” to having “650 clinics across all 50 states” and now ensures that “millions of women and men” have access to essential health care. Noting the concerted efforts across the country to eliminate access to reproductive health care, Pearson wrote that it was “remarkable that Planned Parenthood has never wavered in its mission to empower patients to make informed, independent decisions about their own bodies.” From The Huffington Post:
On October 16, Planned Parenthood turns 100. What began as this country’s first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, is now a cornerstone of the American health care system. Planned Parenthood has 650 clinics across all 50 states. It provides health care to millions of women and men. It affirms a woman’s fundamental right to comprehensive reproductive health care.
And yet many GOP leaders, like vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, have made it their mission to defund Planned Parenthood. But they will have (and have had) to contend with the American public ― the majority of which supports continued federal funding for the organization ― as well as the many, many women who #StandWithPP. Because Planned Parenthood is an organization that radically transforms women’s lives.
Lauding an organization for simply respecting women’s agency is absurd, and yet here we are. In 2016, we have a predatory misogynist running for president with a VP who has fought against abortion rights for years, and every day, in states across the country, women’s health care rights are being slowly chipped away. So yes, it is remarkable that Planned Parenthood has never wavered in its mission to empower patients to make informed, independent decisions about their own bodies. It is why the women who have turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives tend to feel such devotion to it.
As an anonymous 24-year-old woman once told The Huffington Post, “I owe my life and my sanity to them.” [The Huffington Post, 10/14/16]
Right-Wing Media Have Long Spread Anti-Choice Myths And Misinformation About Planned Parenthood
MYTH: Planned Parenthood Illegally Harvested And Sold Fetal Tissue
An Anti-Choice Group Has Released Multiple Deceptive Videos Accusing Planned Parenthood Of Illegal Activity -- All of Which Have Been Debunked. In the summer of 2015, David Daleiden and his anti-choice group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), released a series of deceptively edited videos alleging that Planned Parenthood profited from selling fetal tissue. Scores of media outlets have confirmed that the footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been “grossly [taken] out of context.” Similarly, a growing number of state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. [Media Matters, 8/31/15, 8/24/15]
Media Matters Study: Fox News’ Evening Programs Routinely Shared Myths About Planned Parenthood While Giving CMP Founder A Platform For Misinformation. In a study, Media Matters analyzed 14 months of abortion-related discussions on Fox News’ evening programs and found that during this time, Fox frequently gave Daleiden’s false allegations against Planned Parenthood an uncritical platform. Fox News hosts and guests consistently claimed that Planned Parenthood was “harvesting,” or “profiting” from the sale of fetal tissue, and Fox News programs had Daleiden on as a guest seven times from July 15, 2015, through September 4, 2015. These appearances also included an hour-long special dedicated to repeating CMP’s baseless allegations. [Media Matters, 6/2/16, 6/1/16]
FACT: Planned Parenthood Has Consistently Been Cleared Of All Wrongdoing
Growing List Of Planned Parenthood Investigations Clears Organization Of Any Wrongdoing. The deceptively edited and secretly recorded videos released by CMP spurred at least a dozen states to launch investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations, even though there are “only three states in which Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics can participate in fetal tissue donation programs,” according to Yahoo News. Thirteen states -- Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, Kansas, Washington state, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina -- and the Department of Health and Human Services have all announced that they found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or known violations of federal fetal tissue laws. [Media Matters, 8/24/15]
Multiple Media Outlets Have Called Out CMP's Videos For Showing “Nothing Illegal” And Taking Planned Parenthood Staff “Grossly Out Of Context.” Multiple media outlets, including The New York Times,The Guardian, the Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, have condemned CMP's release of deceptively edited videos. After the first video appeared, FactCheck.org debunked CMP's claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling aborted baby parts,” and detailed the ways in which the allegation was inaccurate and unfounded. The videos have also been condemned for taking Planned Parenthood personnel's words “grossly out of context” and for showing “nothing illegal.” The New York Times’ editorial board wrote that the videos were part of a “campaign of deception” and said those who use the videos for political purposes care “nothing about the truth.” [Media Matters, 7/15/15; 7/21/15; 7/22/15]
MYTH: Planned Parenthood Shouldn’t Receive Funding Because It Isn’t An Essential Health Care Provider And Other Entities Can Cover The Services It Provides
The Daily Signal: Proposed Rule Ensures There Will Be “Millions More In Taxpayer Dollars For the Nation’s Abortion Market Leader At the Expense Of Women’s Health.” Although multiple investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing, anti-choice lawmakers in several states attempted to bar the organization from receiving government funding -- prompting the Obama administration to offer guidance and then updated rules governing the distribution of federal Medicaid and Title X funds. Casey Mattox, a lawyer for the extreme right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), claimed in an opinion piece for The Daily Signal that the proposed rule would ensure that there are “millions more in taxpayer dollars for the nation’s abortion market leader at the expense of women’s health.” In the September 13 piece, Mattox argued that this rule would be detrimental to women’s health because “Planned Parenthood is simply not equipped to provide [necessary] primary care services.” Because of this, he wrote, many states had already “wisely chosen to prioritize the funds to more comprehensive health care providers than Planned Parenthood,” claiming that those providers already “serve at least eight times as many patients than Planned Parenthood.” From The Daily Signal:
In his remaining few months in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama has found a new way to direct more taxpayer money to his friends at Planned Parenthood.
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new regulation that would force states to give federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. The move could mean millions more in taxpayer dollars for the nation’s abortion market leader at the expense of women’s health.
Grants are available to both public entities (like state health departments) and private networks. Where a state health department chooses not to apply, private entities often receive and distribute Title X funds. Among states that receive Title X funds, some have wisely chosen to prioritize the funds to more comprehensive health care providers than Planned Parenthood, thereby avoiding state entanglement with abortion. That’s why the Obama administration is upset.
Federally qualified health centers serve at least eight times as many patients than Planned Parenthood. Medicaid has expanded, and many states employ federally approved Medicaid waiver programs to provide the same services covered under Title X to many more people. And, of course, Obamacare now mandates coverage of contraceptives on virtually every health plan. [The Daily Signal, 9/13/16]
Fox Host Sean Hannity And Then-Breitbart Reporter Michelle Fields Pushed Myth That There Are “Plenty Of Other Places Where People Can Get Better Services” Without Planned Parenthood. In November 2015, Fox News’ Sean Hannity pushed the myth that there are already numerous health centers capable of replacing Planned Parenthood. During the segment, Michelle Fields, who at the time was a political reporter for Breitbart News, argued that defunding Planned Parenthood is “fiscally responsible” because there are “plenty of other places where people can get better services.” Hannity said funding these centers instead of Planned Parenthood “seems like a winnable issue” because the funding would “continue to be spent on women’s health issues, but not through Planned Parenthood.” From Fox’s Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We can't seem to get Republican candidates and Republican elected officials to take a simple stand. Continue to fund women's health issues but not Planned Parenthood. That seems like a winnable issue to me.
MICHELLE FIELDS: Absolutely. And, you know, it's a fiscal issue. You're being fiscally responsible. Planned Parenthood can be self-sufficient. It does not need taxpayer dollars. Plus, there are plenty of clinics, plenty of other places where people can get better services, better quality of service without taxpayer dollars. So this should be an issue everyone should be talking about.
HANNITY: The money will continued to be spent on women's health issues, but not through Planned Parenthood. That to me seems legitimate considering they're on tape breaking the law. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/11/15]
Fox News' Eric Bolling: “There Are Some 8,000 Clinics Where Women Can Get Treatment For Things Other Than Abortion In America.” During the August 12, 2015, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Eric Bolling discussed public funding of Planned Parenthood and referenced “8,000 clinics” in the U.S. other than Planned Parenthood where women can get health care. Guest Penny Young Nance, CEO of the anti-choice group Concerned Women for America, seconded Bolling's claim by saying there are actually “9,000 community health centers” that could use the funds Planned Parenthood currently receives:
ERIC BOLLING (HOST): Penny, there are some 8,000 clinics where women can get treatment for other things other than abortion in America. Maybe that $500 million that the U.S. taxpayer hands over to Planned Parenthood could be better spent elsewhere. Cause technically, taxpayer money is not supposed to support abortion. Technically.
PENNY YOUNG NANCE: That's right, Eric. Actually much more than 8,000. There's new research, 9,000 just community health centers. So the Joni Ernst bill that the Senate voted on would have shifted the funds from Planned Parenthood to these community health centers that treat the whole women. They don't do one abortion. But they care for women. You know the number one killer of women is heart disease. Women have many issues, not just fertility, of course that's important too, but let's care for women. We don't have to choose. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/12/15]
Fox News' Shannon Bream: “There Are 13 Times More Federally Qualified Health Centers Across The Country Than There Are Planned Parenthood Clinics.” During a discussion on the August 3, 2015, edition of Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier about a vote in the U.S. Senate to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Fox News legal correspondent Shannon Bream said there are “13 times more federally qualified health centers across the country than there are Planned Parenthood clinics.” Bream’s figure came from the anti-choice Charlotte Lozier Institute, which describes itself as the “research and education institute of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization dedicated to electing candidates and pursuing policies that will reduce and ultimately end abortion.” From Special Report with Bret Baier:
SHANNON BREAM: According to the conservative Charlotte Lozier Institute, there are 13 times more federally qualified health centers across the country than there are Planned Parenthood clinics. The federally qualified health centers operate in both rural and urban locations, providing health services but not abortions, and serve more than 21 million people each year. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 8/3/15]
FACT: In Many Communities, Planned Parenthood Is The Most Effective And Accessible Health Care Provider
Public Health Professor: Argument That Community Health Care Centers “Can Absorb The Loss Of Planned Parenthood Clinics Amounts To A Gross Misrepresentation.” Experts have confirmed that even when community clinics do provide reproductive health services, they are not well-positioned to fill the gap left if Planned Parenthood is defunded. As Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in an article for the Health Affairs Blog, the “claim that community health centers readily can absorb the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do”:
I have worked with community health centers for nearly 40 years, and no one believes more strongly than I do in their ability to transform the primary health care landscape in medically underserved low-income communities. But a claim that community health centers readily can absorb the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do were Planned Parenthood to lose over 40 percent of its operating revenues overnight as the result of a ban on federal funding.
It is important to set the record straight about what it would mean to women were health centers suddenly to have to respond to a hole in care of this magnitude, especially given absurd claims about their financial ability to do so, such as assertions that community health centers could do so for $1.67 per patient. Community health centers are extremely efficient, but the cost of caring for their patients averages about $600 per person annually.
While community health centers constitute a vital component of the nation's primary care safety net, three reasons underscore why it's misguided to suggest community health centers could--overnight--compensate for the loss of affordable women's health services at Planned Parenthood clinics. [Health Affairs Blog, 9/2/15]
Guttmacher Institute: In 103 U.S. Counties, Planned Parenthood Is The Only “Safety-Net Health Center” With Accessible Contraception Services. In 2015, the Guttmacher Institute responded to a request from the Congressional Budget Office about the “geographic service availability from Planned Parenthood health centers.” The study found that in 103 U.S. counties, Planned Parenthood is the only “safety-net health center” able to provide publicly subsidized contraceptive services. The study also found that Planned Parenthood typically saw patients three to five days sooner than “other types of safety-net providers.” From the Guttmacher Institute (citations removed):
In 18 states, Planned Parenthood health centers serve more than 40% of women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net family planning health center.
In 11 of those 18 states, Planned Parenthood serves more than half the women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net health center.
In 103 counties with a Planned Parenthood health center (21% of counties with a Planned Parenthood site), Planned Parenthood serves all of the women obtaining publicly supported contraceptive services from a safety-net health center. [Guttmacher Institute, 8/14/15]
NY Times: Planned Parenthood Serves More Patients And Has “Higher Quality Care Than Centers Without An Emphasis On Reproductive Health.” In a September 9 editorial, The New York Times refuted the argument that “community health centers can easily provide the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offers.” As evidence, the Times noted that Planned Parenthood “serves an enormous number of patients” and despite running “only 10 percent of all health centers that receive Title X funds” regularly provides services to “about a third of all patients” receiving Title X services. The Times also pointed to a recent study which found that Planned Parenthood was able to offer “a wider range of family planning services and higher quality care than centers without an emphasis on reproductive health.” From The New York Times:
Some state lawmakers have argued that community health centers can easily provide the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offers. But a study published this year found that providers focused on reproductive health care, like Planned Parenthood, offered a wider range of family planning services and higher quality care than centers without an emphasis on reproductive health.
Planned Parenthood also serves an enormous number of patients; though it operates only 10 percent of all health centers that receive Title X funds, it treats about a third of all patients receiving federally funded family planning services nationwide.
If the [proposed Title X] rule takes effect, it will benefit people all over the country who need reliable reproductive health care. [The New York Times, 9/9/16]
MYTH: Planned Parenthood Uses Tax Dollars To Fund Abortion Services
Fox’s Eric Bolling: Lawmakers Should “Separate” Abortion Funding From “Women’s Services” With A “Chinese Wall.” During the December 22 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to an argument from co-host Dana Perino that “defunding Planned Parenthood” is problematic by arguing that abortion services should be “separate” from funding for “women’s services.” Bolling pushed for Republicans to "defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood” and set up a “Chinese wall” between that and funding for Planned Parenthood’s other services. From Fox News’ The Five:
DANA PERINO: A couple of things though -- Planned Parenthood, they bring up the defunding Planned Parenthood. Here's the box that Republicans are in. So when you're in a competitive primary, and you have to run to try to win that, you have to deal with what your party wants, OK? That party might want repeal. But Planned Parenthood defunding, that actually polls so negatively for the GOP. It has about, funding Planned Parenthood has about a 65 to 70 percent approval rate, so that makes it very difficult then when you switch to go to a general election. Where I think Hillary Clinton is more vulnerable than they will admit is on Obamacare. And if you look at Kentucky, for example, where we had a special election in 2014, the Republican candidate was not expected to win, he was down by about a touchdown, he won by about a touchdown. And this has the Democrats worried, because that and all the exit polls was mostly about Obamacare.
GREG GUTFELD: Eric, why can't they discuss the topic of national security?
ERIC BOLLING: It's a lose for them. She just highlighted all the things that they think they're winning. Dana points out Planned Parenthood. There is a way to defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood. But the Republicans haven't figured out how to do that. Just separate the two. There's women's services and there's abortion. You want to fund women's services, knock yourself out. Just don't meld them. It's so easy, it's a Chinese wall. [Fox News, The Five, 12/22/15]
Fox News Anchor: It's “Very Difficult To Argue” That Planned Parenthood “Does Not Use” Taxpayer Money For Abortions. During the July 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, anchor Martha MacCallum responded to the fact that Planned Parenthood hasn't performed abortion services with federal funds in over 40 years by saying, “Those funds are fungible,” adding, “It's very, very difficult to argue they do not use those funds for abortions.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/30/15]
FACT: The Hyde Amendment Prohibits Federal Abortion Funding -- With Negative Consequences For Abortion Access
National Women’s Law Center: The Hyde Amendment Forces Low-Income Women To “Postpone Paying For Other Basic Needs … In Order To Save The Money Needed For An Abortion.” The Hyde amendment is a restriction on federal funding for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. In a July 21, 2015, fact sheet, the National Women’s Law Center explained that the Hyde amendment puts low-income persons at a substantial financial disadvantage in obtaining abortions, noting that “because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion,” which increases the out-of-pocket costs and potentially forces women “deeper into poverty”:
The Hyde Amendment Creates Economic Barriers and Health Concerns for Low-Income Women
Low-income women denied abortion coverage under the Hyde Amendment 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. Moreover, because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion because they need time to raise the money. In one study, more than one-third of women that had an abortion in the second trimester stated that they would have preferred to have the procedure earlier but could not because they needed to raise money. The greater the delay in obtaining an abortion, the more expensive the procedure becomes, catching poor women in a vicious cycle. In a 2011 study, women paid an average of $397 for a first trimester abortion but $854 for a second trimester abortion.
Other women may be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, which could harm their future well-being. For example, one study showed that one year after attempting to obtain an abortion, women denied an abortion were more likely to live below the federal poverty level and receive public assistance than those who received an abortion. Being forced to forego an abortion could push more women and their families closer to poverty and others deeper into the poverty they endure.
The Hyde Amendment Particularly Burdens Women of Color
Restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion disproportionately affect women of color. In 2012, 20 percent of Medicaid enrollees were African-American, 29 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Aleutian or Eskimo.
African-American and Latina women are more likely than White women to rely on Medicaid for coverage of family planning services, and they are also more likely than White women to face financial barriers when seeking abortions. Furthermore, women of color are more likely to experience unintended pregnancy, due to racial, ethnic, gender, and economic healthcare inequalities. [National Women’s Law Center, 7/21/15; Media Matters, 9/29/16]
Guttmacher Institute: “The Number Of Women Potentially Affected By The Hyde Amendment Is Substantial.” On July 14, the Guttmacher Institute released a report detailing the devastating impact of the Hyde amendment and advocating for its repeal. According to Guttmacher’s director of public policy, Heather Boonstra, “The number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial” given the significant number of women dependent on federally subsidized medical services. She wrote that for women between 15 and 33 who depend on Medicaid, “60% live in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.” As a result, “roughly seven million women” are potentially impacted by Hyde’s restrictions on federal funding for abortion care. She concluded that due to the wide-reaching negative effects of the Hyde amendment, the fight to repeal it “is and should be the heart of the abortion rights struggle in this country”:
The number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial. Of women aged 15–44 enrolled in Medicaid, 60% live in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.17 This amounts to roughly seven million women of reproductive age, including 3.4 million who are living below the federal poverty level.
The Hyde Amendment falls particularly hard on women of color. Because of social and economic inequality linked to racism and discrimination, women of color are disproportionately likely to be insured by the Medicaid program: Thirty percent of black women and 24% of Hispanic women aged 15–44 are enrolled in Medicaid, compared with 14% of white women.
The proactive campaigns to heighten attention and call for action to cover abortion care under health insurance—especially for low-income women on Medicaid—seem to be gaining some traction among candidates who support abortion rights. Increasingly, more seem comfortable talking about the issue and fighting for reform. With a new administration and Congress taking office next year, and elections in all 50 states too, advocates are hopeful about rebuilding support—however long it takes—toward achieving true access to abortion care for low-income women, regardless of the state in which they live. This is and should be the heart of the abortion rights struggle in this country. [Guttmacher Institute, 7/14/16]
The Guardian: The Hyde Amendment “Is One Of The Biggest Barriers To Abortion Left Standing.” In a July 26 article, Guardian senior reporter Molly Redden explained that the Democratic platform’s commitment to explicitly repealing Hyde is significant because the restriction is “one of the biggest barriers to abortion left standing.” She wrote that “the loudest calls for the repeal of Hyde … originated with groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health [NLIRH] and SisterSong” -- all of which specifically represent women of color. As the director of NLIRH, Jessica Gonzáles-Rojas, explained, “‘Women of color leaders have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades.’” From The Guardian:
The announcement made Clinton one of the only modern presidential candidates to oppose the nearly 40-year-old ban on federal abortion coverage. And this week, the rest of her party will follow suit. In what is the first significant shift to the party line on abortion in decades, Democrats will approve a platform at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia that explicitly calls for elected officials to overturn Hyde.
But in a sharp departure from how abortion issues normally percolate, the loudest calls for the repeal of Hyde did not originate with groups such as Planned Parenthood or Naral Pro-Choice America – groups that have set the agenda for abortion rights supporters for decades. Instead, the calls originated with groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and SisterSong.
“Women of color leaders have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades when most mainstream reproductive rights groups did not prioritize this issue,” said Jessica González-Rojas, director of the National Latina Institute and an All Above All co-chair.
The result is a movement that overtly fuses one of the modern Democratic party’s most established positions – support for abortion rights – with the interests of the activists who increasingly represent the demographic future of the party.
The target is substantial. Hyde is one of the biggest barriers to abortion left standing, after the supreme court in June struck down health restrictions with no basis in evidence. [The Guardian, 7/26/16]
MYTH: Planned Parenthood Performs “Partial-Birth” Abortions
TheBlaze: CMP Videos Prove “Planned Parenthood’s Affiliates Use Partial Birth Abortions To Sell Fetal Parts.” After the release of a deceptively edited CMP video, TheBlaze claimed that the “undercover footage” proved that “Planned Parenthood’s affiliates use partial birth abortions to sell fetal parts.” “Partial-birth” is an anti-choice label for a previously used later-term abortion procedure that is no longer legal in the United States. Despite this, and the fact that CMP’s work has been thoroughly debunked, TheBlaze pushed the July 2015 video as evidence that the procedure was still being performed in order to “leave fetal body parts in tact.” From TheBlaze:
A shocking new video claims to present undercover footage proving that some Planned Parenthood’s affiliates use partial birth abortions to sell fetal parts.
A video, titled, “Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts,” from the Center for Medical Progress, a group concerned with medical ethics, features comments from Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services, allegedly showing her describing how some doctors carefully conduct abortions that leave fetal body parts in tact.
Nucatola reportedly made these comments on July 25, 2014, to actors whom she believed were actual representatives and buyers from a human biologics company. The comments appear to recount a process through which some abortion doctors purportedly carefully conduct procedures in an effort to keep specific fetal body parts in tact. [TheBlaze, 7/14/15]
The Federalist: Planned Parenthood “May Still Be Engaging In This Horrific Practice Of Partially Delivering And Destroying An Unborn Child.” Casey Mattox, a lawyer for the extreme right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), wrote in an October 2015 commentary for the conservative media outlet The Federalist that Planned Parenthood “may still be engaging in this horrific practice of partially delivering and destroying an unborn child” via so-called “partial-birth” abortions. According to Mattox, CMP’s deceptive videos “force us to consider the possibility that Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry” are violating the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 because providers appeared to be describing “a method that sounds very much like the definition of a partial-birth abortion.” From The Federalist:
When the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2007, abortionists who had been insisting partial-birth abortions were necessary to protect women’s health instantly stopped doing them. At least, that’s what we are supposed to believe.
But the recent videos released by the Center for Medical Progress indicate that Planned Parenthood abortionists, at least, may still be engaging in this horrific practice of partially delivering and destroying an unborn child—specifically for the purpose of obtaining human organs for sale. That would be illegal. The real alternative to Planned Parenthood having violated the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (PBABA), however, isn’t that Planned Parenthood is blameless. It’s that Planned Parenthood and its allies in the abortion industry lied to the public and to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But I may have overlooked a fourth option. The Center for Medical Progress videos force us to consider the possibility that Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry have never sought an as-applied exemption from PBABA because it’s easier just to violate that law.
In earlier videos, Planned Parenthood senior executives indicated a willingness to change abortion methods in ways that sounded very much like partial-birth abortions to obtain the human organs they wanted. Planned Parenthood Senior Medical Director Deborah Nucatola even said PBABA was “up to interpretation,” and that some abortionists would use a certain protocol to ensure it wouldn’t appear they had intended a partial-birth abortion. In the most recent video, another Planned Parenthood abortionist in Texas describes converting 18- to 20-week pregnancies to breech in order to obtain better organ samples, in a method that sounds very much like the definition of a partial-birth abortion. [The Federalist, 10/29/15]
FACT: “Partial-Birth” Is An Anti-Choice Label For a Procedure Not Currently Performed In The United States
NPR: “‘Partial-Birth’ Is Not A Medical Term,” And The Concept Was Invented By Anti-Choice Groups To “Foster A Growing Opposition To Abortion.” After the Supreme Court decided to hear a case about the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2006, NPR’s Julie Rovner explained that “‘partial-birth’ is not a medical term” but is instead “a political one.” As explained by Rovner, “partial-birth” abortion is a misleading reference to the previously used later-term abortion procedure known as a “‘dilation and extraction,’ or D&X.” Rovner continued that the term “was first coined” in 1995 “by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC),” an anti-choice group that admitted in a magazine interview that it created the term to “foster a growing opposition to abortion.” [NPR, 2/21/06]
Rolling Stone: So-Called “‘Partial Birth’ [Abortion] Isn’t Actually A Thing” And Was “Made Up … To Make Abortion Seem Gruesome.” Rolling Stone reported on October 5 that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s allegation that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports so-called “partial-birth” abortion is inaccurate because “‘partial birth’ [abortion] isn’t really a thing.” As explained by Rolling Stone, “partial birth” is “a term made up by [anti-choice] activists to make abortion seem gruesome.” By deploying the term to describe any late-term abortion -- a procedure often performed “when something has gone terribly wrong,” anti-choice groups “vilify women” who are often facing the “loss of a wanted pregnancy.” In some cases, Rolling Stone noted, women seeking an “abortion in later term” are often put in that position due to the number of economic and logistical barriers to earlier abortion access by anti-choice politicians. From Rolling Stone:
But “partial birth abortion” isn't actually a thing – it's a term made up by activists to make abortion seem gruesome. It's used to focus attention on later abortions, which make many supporters of legal abortion queasy, and to vilify women who have them.
Which is cruel. Women have later abortions when something has gone terribly wrong – often the loss of a wanted pregnancy. But anti-abortion advocates have successfully used their tragedies to garner support for anti-abortion policies.
Studies show women with unwanted pregnancies prefer to end them as early as possible, and the vast majority of abortions in this country are performed in the first trimester. Second-trimester abortions aren't even available in much of the country – it can be an ordeal to find a physician to abort even a doomed pregnancy.
Women who don't want to be pregnant, who abort in later term, tend to be young and poor. As Dr. David Grimes has explained, they get delayed by things like not realizing they're pregnant, or having to raise money to pay for the procedure and related travel expenses. [Rolling Stone, 10/5/16]