Last week bill HR 3134 passed the US House of Representatives. I wrote about it. I asked a friend of mine, Callie P., who I knew would have a difference of opinion from me on this subject and could present her thoughts intelligently, if she would be interested in writing a piece for my blog; she obliged. Below is her unedited writing, enjoy!
First, I want to make it clear that I have no intention of changing anyone’s mind about abortion in this piece. I completely understand the thought that a fetus is a child at the time of conception, especially based on my own Christian beliefs and Biblical teaching (namely Jeremiah 1:5). I disagree for many, many reasons but I absolutely understand, and I have no wish to demean anyone, based on that idea.
My intention is to help illuminate some possibly well-intentioned beliefs that are either patently incorrect or that I’m hoping we can find some middle-ground on:
You believe the only thing Planned Parenthood provides are abortions.
You believe your tax dollars are helping Planned Parenthood abort babies.
You believe there are videos that show undeniable evidence that Planned Parenthood is doing “horrific” things, like selling baby body parts.
You believe the aforementioned videos have any real, accurate information within them at all.
You believe abortion is never the correct answer, that it is shameful, wrong, or anything other than a legal medical procedure.
That being said, let’s get to it:
The vote to defund Planned Parenthood is based on a series of heavily doctored videos which attempt to “prove” that Planned Parenthood sells “baby body parts” for profit. If this were a high-school research project it would have been thrown out immediately as trash. These videos are a hoax in the truest sense, creating a lie that has the validity of an urban legend but has somehow re-ignited a debate over a fundamental right– a right, I might add, that has already been conclusively granted and upheld.
Before we get into the basics on why these videos are a complete farce, let’s learn a little bit more about this deceptive organization that has hijacked our political representatives and resulted in hateful legislation:
The Center for Medical Progress, as the anti-abortion group is called, stems and receives funding from Operation Rescue- an organization with a history of intentionally misleading propaganda, corruption, racketeering, and dozens of well documented illegal activities. Most notable to me (among their many despicable deeds) are Operation Rescue’s actions in the 80s- they would position themselves and their supporters in front of women’s clinics to physically prevent women from entering and receiving care- hurling insults and sometimes fists at women when they attempted to enter the clinics. It is because of this organization that a law needed to be enacted (the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 1994) that would allow patients to access medical clinics and facilities without fear of bodily harm.
This is the organization that our elected officials have chosen to trust over Planned Parenthood.
Now let’s dismantle the videos themselves, shall we?
The Center for Medical Progress created a fake company called “Biomax Procurement Services solely to “infiltrate” Planned Parenthood. Biomax even filed for tax-exempt status in 2013 (you can imagine how well that’s going to go over for them in court). The claim that Planned Parenthood “sells the body parts of aborted babies,” is plainly untrue, and the lie is exposed by The Center for Medical Progress’s own undercover videos. Anyone who doubts this has not read the actual transcript from the videos themselves. Here are some of my favorite highlights:
“Really their bottom line is, they want to break even. Every penny they save is just pennies they give to another patient. To provide a service the patient wouldn’t get,” says Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood Federation in one of the videos.
Later in the same conversation she says: “we’re not looking to make money from this. Our goal is to keep access available. And if we do something that makes a target, that just removes access for everybody.”
She even goes further, when Dr. Nucatola says “Our goal, like I said, is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line. The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.”
Over and over the faux Biomax officials try to lead the Planned Parenthood staff into damning sound-bites and revelations about “heinous practices” that simply don’t exist, and over and over the representatives from Planned Parenthood- who have no idea that they are being filmed- speak respectfully and ethically about their patients, actions, and the procedures at Planned Parenthood.
Big ol’ fail, there, as far as damning evidence goes.
Or at least it should have been.
As citizens we should be ashamed of our representatives for being duped by such poorly executed fraud, especially as the main issue “revealed” in these videos is the completely legal act of donating tissue.
By law, women getting abortions can voluntarily donate the tissue from that procedure to medical research, and by law the abortion provider may request nominal reimbursement ($30-100 in most cases) for saving, packing and shipping the tissue to a research firm, such as universities, medical labs, etc.
I realize that sounds icky to those of us not a part of the medical field (aka most Americans) and that discussing the shipment of pieces of skin, tissue, or flesh is unpleasant. That does not, however, make donating tissue to research illegal– even fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood donates tissue from aborted fetuses only at the express permission of the woman from which it was taken, and only to verifiable, licensed medial labs. This is the same process multiple other clinics that perform abortions, hospitals, etc. go through when donating fetal tissue, but you’ll note that none of those organizations are under attack.
Fetal tissue donations like the ones discussed in The Center for Medical Progress’ videos lead to advances in cancer treatments, AIDS medicines, and countless other medical breakthroughs that
will save an untold number of lives. The New England Journal of Medicine wrote in September of 2015 that “[medical professionals] have a duty to use fetal tissue for research and therapy.” The Journal even goes so far as to say “[v]irtually ever person in this country has benefited from research using fetal tissue… this attack represents a betrayal of the people whose lives could be saved by the research and a violation of that most fundamental duty of medicine.”
Why would the American public as well as our elected officials listen to conservative anti-abortion extremists over our county’s medical professionals?
This brings us to the main reason why House Bill HR3134 is unreasonable and irresponsible–
The argument to defund Planned Parenthood is based on intentionally malicious and false videos from a known felonious organization that has attempted to persuade all of us that Planned Parenthood profits from the abortions some of their clinics provide.
We’ve already discussed how this is untrue- and there have been multiple state and federally sponsored investigations into these practices that have yielded absolutely no evidence of wrong-doing on Planned Parenthood’s part.
So why are we still talking about this?
Because conservative politicians can no longer claim the way Planned Parenthood performs these procedures or what they do with the materials left behind is illegal, they have instead decided to attack Planned Parenthood based on their dislike of the completely legal services they provide.
Let me be very clear here:
Abortion in the United States of America is legal. For any reason, it is legal for a woman in this country to terminate her pregnancy within an allotted time frame. It has been legal for 42 years, and that right has been repeatedly upheld by courts at every level.
Regardless of our political, religious, moral, or personal stances, whether we agree with it or not, this is a fact.
I am doing my absolute best to save my arguments for the reason why abortion should be legal and why abortion as a right is imperative for another time because, while an important discussion, it is not a part of this particular issue. The bottom line is that abortion is legal, and we should not be debating the legality of an issue this large while discussing Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. They are two separate issues, and it is because our representatives cannot separate them that this entire debate is even happening.
Some Planned Parenthood clinics perform abortions or provide abortion services (for example, not one Planned Parenthood center in the state of Oklahoma– the state where HR3134’s author resides- performs abortions). These services take up 3% of Planned Parenthood’s total services nationally. For these abortion services, Planned Parenthood receives $0.00 from the American tax-payer- absolutely no funds through Title X or any other federal funding.
All Planned Parenthood centers, over 700 of them nationwide, prevent unplanned pregnancies and therefore prevent abortions. All Planned Parenthood centers provide cancer screenings,
sexual education, domestic violence education and prevention services, pap smears, mammograms, STD tests, pregnancy tests, annual check-ups, contraception and birth control, etc. etc. etc. These things they do with the federal funds allocated to them through the United States government under Title X: The National Family Planning Program.
The services Planned Parenthood provides save the lives of women, men, and children every year.
Do not be fooled- it is untrue that defunding Planned Parenthood would have anything but a negative impact on women, particularly poor women, women who live in rural, under-serviced areas, and women of color- the very people Title X is meant to aid and protect.
The claim that there are plenty of other clinics that can do the work that Planned Parenthood does is wrong. There are no other federally funded clinics specially focused on women’s health and sexual health that can take up the nationwide slack should Planned Parenthood clinics close their doors. Wait times for appointments would change from days to weeks or months, and medical concerns that desperately need attention will go unobserved and untreated because of these delays.
The proposed solution “So, if Planned Parenthood took abortions ‘off the menu’ and they keep getting funding?” is exactly the problem with HR3134- abortion services are not a part of the Title X funding being discussed in this piece of legislation. Debating what Planned Parenthood does with privately donated funds is not the responsibility of the United States government, even if Planned Parenthood is receiving tax dollars for other services they do provide. HR3134 is the result of conservatives that do not like abortion and wish to punish Planned Parenthood, an organization that prevents more of them every year than any other entity in the United States, because a few of their clinics perform the procedure with private funds.
That, quite frankly, is asinine.
Politicians, if you wish to take a moral stand against abortion, this is not the way to do it.
Defund Planned Parenthood and watch abortion rates in the United States skyrocket due to lack of education, contraception, and birth control availability.
As I said last week, I don’t do political stuff often, but when something I care about enters into current events I may bring it up here. If this is a subject you care about one way or the other I suggest you see how your representative voted and contact your senator – since the bill will have to be voted on there as well.
And a very public THANK YOU to Callie!