During the recent budgetary showdown in which Congress was threatening to steamroll the federal government (without forfeiting its own hefty paychecks, of course), the media repeatedly and consistently echoed the Republicanoid spin that the sticking point was abortion. Actually, the sticking point was funding for Planned Parenthood; thus, the dispute was not over subsidizing abortion, but subsidizing contraception, HIV testing, mammograms and pap smears.
It has become a major doubleheaded tenet of right-wing mythology that Planned Parenthood is a ruthless abortion mill, and that our taxes are funding the procedure. Both claims are patently false. Planned Parenthood applies a whopping THREE PERCENT of its resources toward abortion referrals for clients who insist on having them. And federal law has long prohibited tax money from paying for this service (except in very exceptional circumstances).
The overwhelming focus of the organization is health matters such as those mentioned, and it is much more involved in preventing than enabling abortion. Indeed, by helping prevent well over one million unwanted pregnancies every year, Planned Parenthood does far, far, FAR more to prevent abortion than all the “pro-life” politicians and activists laid end to end -which might not be such a bad thing to do with them. (This admittedly could be construed as faint praise; the “pro-life” movement has really done damn little to curtail abortion except try to outlaw it; and we have the horrors of history to remind us just how effective that is.)
But who needs facts when you have an ideology and some cute bumper stickers to promote it? Right-wing extremists often seem so eager to hate someone, anyone, that their choice of target seems to have been decided by lot. Note their perennial juvenile loathing of Hillary Clinton-who had a voting record in the Senate that marked her as more Republican than some Republicans. But Rush tells them they’re supposed to despise Hillary, so they unquestioningly obey.
And so it is with Planned Parenthood. Anyone who is serious about curbing abortion (not to mention STD and cancer) welcomes the services that Planned Parenthood provides. But these folks seem much more serious about promoting (and ordaining for all ) a naïve mindset holding that such problems can be eliminated with the wave of a magic fiat.
On the other hand, there are three possible explanations for the animosity toward Planned Parenthood:
1. It empowers women, which angers the good ole boy faction.
2. It deals with reproductive issues (you know, s_x), which angers the fundamentalist faction.
3. It receives government funding that might go toward more deserving businesses like Halliburton or the next Enron, which angers the Ayn Rand/ Adam Smith/ Scrooge McDuck faction. You might hear the claim that this money “frees up” other funds, which then can be used for abortion, so it’s the same as funding abortion. This is utterly untrue, and reflects a total lack of understanding about how funds are allocated.
But one gets the distinct impression that many of them don’t really need an excuse. They have a vicious vendetta against Planned Parenthood because… well, just because, so that’s that. And they’re none too particular about how honest their attacks are. The smears have even included the straight-faced allegations that clinics actively promote abortions because they’re profitable, and that Planned Parenthood was founded as a eugenicist movement with the intent of extinguishing minority populations (probably by a race of alien lizards).
Re-enter James O’Keefe and his gang, who may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, but they do know which hot-button scapegoat causes can be exploited to rile the gullible. And having disposed of ACORN, Planned Parenthood was next on their agenda.
O’Keefe had already made calls to Planned Parenthood centers posing as a racist who wanted his supposed donation to go specifically to aborting black fetuses. (Or in ideological parlance, “killing black children”) He publicized those conversations where the employees appeared to respond inappropriately, but did not publicize the fact that the most manifestly inappropriate actually was attempting to trace his call.
More recently, his cohort Lila Rose made undercover videos that also purported to show inappropriate conduct by Planned Parenthood personnel. I probably don’t have to tell you that such videos are more chopped up than a pregnant teenager in the hands of a veterinary student in the Sixties.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this propaganda was used by Congress as justification for moving toward a vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood and realize a long-cherished right-wing wet dream of closing down the organization, on the apparent assumption that this would eliminate or reduce abortion. (Is it really humanly possible to be that simpleminded?) And it very nearly succeeded.
For now, Planned Parenthood has survived this latest attack of unprincipled lunacy. But it’s only a matter of time. The wells of propaganda never run dry.