Infanticide is a word that has been making quite a buzz lately. The “pro-life” folks have been lobbing it like snowballs in the direction of Planned Parenthood and anyone who supports the mission of Planned Parenthood. We’ve heard this kind of sensationalist polemic before, of course. But what really pumped up the insanity this time is a new law passed in New York that removes certain restrictions against abortion. According to the “pro-life” flock, this law will allow an abortion any time up until birth. That’s absurdly false. The claims are that the new law will allow doctors to kill a baby in the highly unlikely event that it is born alive after an attempted abortion. Also blatantly false. But that won’t stop people from spreading it like fertilizer.
As we’ve seen already, the “pro-life” throng will tell any and every lie they can dredge up to defame Planned Parenthood and pro-choice organizations and individuals in general. “Pro-life” actually has come to mean pro-lie. This has been going on for years, but they recently have become increasingly vociferous and obnoxious. No surprise here. Republicans have found a propaganda gold mine in abortion, a wedge issue from the gods. More than anything else, including even paranoia that the black guy who recently left the White House surely must have done something shady, it has offered them something they can twist, distort, inflame passions over, and use to bamboozle millions of impressionable voters who otherwise would look upon them with loathing.
Right-wingers in politics and the media have taken up the chant in a giddy chorus. Infanticide, infanticide, infanticide. It’s been echoed by the Forty-Fifth White House Occupant, who is about as concerned about abortion as he is about the price of nail polish. It’s been a leitmotiv on Fox “News” and of the annual batshit loony fest known as the Conservative Political Action Conference. Abortion is abortion the abortion red abortion herring abortion that abortion they abortion consistently abortion and abortion constantly abortion use abortion to abortion distract abortion from abortion other abortion issues abortion.
While any year is a banner year for anti-choice fanatics to push lies and inflammatory, violent rhetoric, 2018 seemed to ratchet the lunacy up a notch or two. And 2019 appears that it’s going to be even worse, and perhaps much worse.
It doesn’t help that, in addition to the New York law, similar laws have been proposed — and outrageously mischaracterized by the GOP — in other states. It doesn’t help that a Virginia lawmaker opened her mouth without engaging her brain when she was pressured by a Republican seeking to score cheap political points. (Subsequently, “pro-life” activists targeted her the way they target many people they don’t like — with death threats.)
The GOP, never missing any opportunity to rouse the rabble, proposed a “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”, which was meant to address an essentially nonexistent problem with unnecessary government intrusion. It was a bill that Republicans knew would fail, and acknowledged that they introduced it purely for political gain — giving them another tenuous excuse to frame Democrats as “baby killers” ahead of the 2020 elections.
Another bit of fortuitous timing for the “pro-life” propagandists was the release of the film Unplanned, based on the book of the same name by Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion (or more precisely, anti-Planned Parenthood) activist who has become a laureled darling among the “pro-life” mob. That’s because she was a former director of a Planned Parenthood center in Texas, but she had an epiphany in 2009 and totally reversed course, becoming a vocal foe of her former employer. This happened, she says, because she witnessed an ultrasound of an abortion at 13 weeks, and didn’t like what she saw.
But there are, to say the least, some very suspicious holes in her story. She claimed that her supervisors pressured her to increase the number of abortions to drive up profits. But aside from the fact that there’s a limit to how many abortions you can generate without distributing free sperm samples first, her claim doesn’t make sense because: (a) abortions comprise only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, and (b) they’re really just not profitable. She also claimed that Planned Parenthood’s abortions are performed by for-profit organizations. That’s patently false, and she definitely should know better. In other words, she lied again.
She’d been at the clinic for 8 years, beginning as a volunteer and working her way up, so it’s quite unlikely that she’d never witnessed an ultrasound-monitored abortion before. Furthermore, there is no record of an ultrasound abortion on the day she says she assisted with one — neither at the clinic nor at the Texas Department of State Health Services, with which the clinic is required to file reports. No problem — she simply claims that Planned Parenthood and/or the state of Texas cooked the books (apparently, they had the supreme foresight to know that at some point in the future someone would be asking questions about this particular patient). She seems to be taking a cue from the Forty-Fifth White House Occupant — when your claims conflict with reality, just assume that there must be some conspiracy to rig reality against you. The “pro-lifers” even have their own “scientific research” to make up for the lack of real science to back their wild-eyed assertions.
On the night Johnson resigned her post from Planned Parenthood, she slapped this comment up on Facebook.
Alright. Here’s the deal. I have been doing the work of two full time people for two years. Then, after I have been working my whole big butt off for them and prioritizing that company over my family, my friends and pretty much everything else in my life, they have the nerve to tell me that my job performance is “slipping.” WHAT???!!! That is crazy. Anyone that knows me knows how committed I was to that job. They obviously do not value me at all. So, I’m out and I feel really great about it!
Not a syllable about any soul-searching over the moral ambivalence of the business she was engaged in. On the contrary, she reaffirms how committed she’s been to her career. And she indicates that she’s leaving it only because of conflicts between her and her superiors. It was only later that she changed her tune and declared that she’d resigned because she decided abortion was wrong. In short, one way or another she lied about it. (She herself claims that her Facebook post was just a ruse to mask her real motives. A pretty way of saying she lied. It would have been easier to say she just didn’t want to discuss her motives.)
The day after she supposedly had her traumatic revelation, she appeared on a feminist program on a radio station in Bryan, Texas, where the clinic was located. As Texas Monthly reports:
In the hour-long interview, Johnson gives an enthusiastic defense of the clinic and ridicules the 40 Days for Life protest. She doesn’t sound like someone who’d had a life-changing experience the previous day or who had soured on her employer’s mission.
The “40 Days for Life” is an annual event staged by the Coalition For Life, with which she subsequently became active. It’s an organization that protests outside the Planned Parenthood center and badgers anyone who goes inside. Previously, she spoke quite harshly of these folks, and she’s even been known to speak harshly to them. Now she’s snugly in the corral with them, hurling the same cookie cutter talking points they do. She denies that they’ve ever threatened violence against anyone at Planned Parenthood; yet she herself previously was on the receiving end of such threats, frightening her into installing an alarm system in her home. In other words, she is, once again, lying.
In short, we have a woman who from all evidence has lied about Coalition For Life, lied about her reason for leaving Planned Parenthood, lied about witnessing an ultrasound abortion, lied about who performs abortions, and lied about being pressured to crank up the number of procedures performed. Yet we’re supposed to believe that she’s telling the truth about everything else. We’re supposed to believe, indeed, that both Planned Parenthood and a government agency in a “pro-life” state deemed it necessary to doctor their records in order to cast doubts on her credibility — when she’d already done such a good job of casting those doubts herself. And had already come under scrutiny by her supervisors for her sub-par job performance at Planned Parenthood.
For thee but not for me
And there’s one more thing you should know about Abby Johnson: she’s had at least two abortions of her own. When she did so, she no doubt considered such a step a dire necessity. But now she feels qualified to declare that anyone else who might consider it a dire necessity is wrong, and should be prohibited from doing so based on her beliefs.
Do as I say, not as I do.
This attitude is by no means unique to her. It runs through the “pro-life” gaggle like an open sewer. (I’ve heard from Planned Parenthood workers that on occasion a protester who’s been harassing and threatening clinic staff will come inside to have an abortion herself. And then go right back to protesting, harassing and threatening. ) This egocentric moral arrogance runs all the way to the top of the food chain, namely the Christian theocracy that wants to dominate other people’s private decisions — particularly to the heads of the Catholic Church, to which Johnson, coincidentally, converted.
You may have thought that priests were all gay pedophiles. You’d be quite mistaken. Some of them swing the other way, particularly when they have a supply of attractive convent tail on hand. Not only have priests been known to engage in carnal acts with nuns, they’ve been known to use nuns as sex slaves. And in some cases force them to get an abortion — you know, that procedure they call the work of Satan when anyone else does it. (Or maybe it’s evil only if you do it voluntarily.) The Pope is aware of the problem, and he says the church will fix it. Eventually. Meanwhile, priests will keep condemning women who so much as use birth control pills.
In countries with liberal abortion laws, an average of 34 abortions per 1000 people are performed annually, and that rate tends to drop; while in countries that ban or greatly restrict abortion, there are 37 per 1000. Moreover the latter entail a much, much greater toll of human misery. But the “pro-lifers” say “So what?”. They just want to have their own dystopian vision imposed on everyone else, even if they don’t live by their own standards, and they don’t care how much suffering or dishonesty it involves.
All of this points to some very disturbing but inescapable conclusions and questions. The “pro-life” movement, by all evidence, is not mostly motivated by either pro-life considerations or anti-abortion considerations. So what exactly is it motivated by? And we can’t ask this question too many times: if “pro-lifers” really believe that their cause is morally superior, why do they feel the necessity to lie so consistently and frequently?