Imagine I infiltrate the SEC Football organization as a jersey vendor. Then, after a couple of years secretly recording conversations with players, coaches, and athletic directors, I strategically edit the footage and release videos revealing that the SEC regularly supplies alcohol, drugs, and prostitutes to athletes for parties.
Once everybody quits having a fit, and my videos are shown to be maliciously edited to prove something that is not true, I suspect they would lose their power. But if, despite the blatant falsehood of the videos, Congress or a state legislature were to form a committee to investigate the SEC, would you continue to hear from the news media that the investigation was launched in response to videos purporting to show SEC officials buying prostitutes for quarterbacks?
No, you would not. Purporting is not nearly a strong enough word to characterize a shameless lie. Instead, you would hear that the investigations were cynically launched in response to soundly discredited videos produced as propaganda tools to destroy SEC football.
But Planned Parenthood is not SEC football.
The allegation that Planned Parenthood was planning to sell fetal tissue for a profit is a lie. It doesn’t matter. The Center for Medical Progress that released videos claiming that lie is linked to anti-abortion extremists who have advocated violence and whose leader dishonestly posed as a biomedical research company representative. It doesn’t matter. Analysis of the videos reveals they were extensively edited to portray Planned Parenthood representatives as inferring things they never said. It doesn’t matter. So far, at least five states and three Congressional committees have investigated Planned Parenthood and found no illegal activity. It doesn’t matter. A handful of Planned Parenthood clinics did offer patients the opportunity to donate tissue for medical research on such things as cancer and Parkinson’s disease, but they accepted only nominal processing fees. It doesn’t matter. Tennessee clinics have never offered patients this option. It doesn’t matter.
This lie is too valuable to give up.
As a member of the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, I have seen the damage, the danger, and the hypocrisy caused by it.
The House of Representatives has set up a select panel headed by Tennessee’s own Rep. Marsha Blackburn to investigate Planned Parenthood in response to “recent videos exposing the abortion-for-baby parts business.” Also in response to the videos, Gov. Bill Haslam plans to introduce legislation to “strengthen accountability and transparency for surgery centers performing abortions.” No doubt our current crop of legislators will vote for it. These are the same legislators who voted an informed consent requirement forcing clinic abortion providers to tell patients that, after 24 weeks, physicians must take steps to preserve the child even though state law already requires abortions after 16 weeks be performed in hospitals rather than clinics. Why not make them also include the price of milk? It’s just as relevant. These are the same folks who claim to abhor government overreach.
Why then are they going to waste valuable time, energy, and taxpayer money to fix a problem that does not exist?
Because they want to criminalize abortion. If they can’t do that, they want to make it as inaccessible as possible. Shut down the clinics. Harass abortion providers. Drive desperate women into back-alleys. But of far more value to Ms. Blackburn, Mr. Haslam, and our esteemed state legislators is the fact that any action against abortion is like candy. They cannot help themselves from gorging on free votes based on hysteria drummed up by the anti-abortion movement.
Nationwide, one in three women will have an abortion before she is 45. In your church pews, in your office, on your PTSO board, in your neighborhood, in your family, among the “pro-life” protesters, there are women who, for countless personal reasons have terminated a pregnancy, but you will never know it because of the stigma fueled by cynical politicians.
Erroneously investigating Planned Parenthood for “selling baby parts” is not the same as killing three people in a Colorado clinic but it legitimizes the propaganda and that puts the actual lives and actual safety of actual human beings at risk.
It is time to stop using a lie to justify actions that compromise the health of women and families.
Catherine Landis serves on the board of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.
With Much Ado, Catherine Landis examines how political decisions and social trends affect the lives of the people around her. She is particularly interested in issues concerning feminism, civil rights, education, the environment, and immigration reform. A former newspaper reporter, she has published two novels, Some Days There’s Pie (St. Martin’s Press) and Harvest (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). She lives in Knoxville.
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