Planned Parenthood took it on the chin at Wednesday night’s GOP debate. In the undercard debate, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal worked into his very first answer the Center for Medical Progress videos (which he recently broadcast at the state capitol), and best tactics for defunding the country’s premier abortion provider were hotly debated on the mainstage. But the night’s knockout blow — and one of its strongest applause lines — came from Carly Fiorina:
I dare Hillary Clinton [and] Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation.
And so the wagon-circling begins.
The supposedly macabre video she’s talking about was highly, selectively edited by right-wing activists. Five state investigations of the issue closed without any findings of misdoing. Planned Parenthood, which provides critical medical services to tens of thousands of women across the country, doesn’t profit from fetal tissue donation, as the candidates imply.
Reporter Rachana Pradhan “fact-checked” Fiorina’s claim for Politico: “That video relies solely on the interview and does not include footage to support her claims.”
And Slate’s Amanda Marcotte rushed to contend that Fiorina’s “grisly abortion rant” was untruths through and through: “There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating.”
Perhaps Marcotte & Co. should actually watch the Planned Parenthood videos. In the seventh video (there are ten available now, by the way, with more to come), at the 5:57 mark, is a baby, post-abortion, lying in a dish — its leg kicking. They will also hear Holly O’Donnell, an ex-StemExpress procurement technician who worked at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda Clinic in San Jose, Calif., describing how she was directed to “cut down the middle of the face” of a baby with a still-beating heart “to get the brain.” Under existing state and federal law, that’s murder.
Either these defenders haven’t watched the Planned Parenthood videos or they are knowingly misrepresenting the footage.
Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who boasts of having watched every minute of released Center for Medical Progress footage, initially called Fiorina’s claims “pure fiction”: “Either Fiorina hasn’t watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage.” She has since updated her initial commentary, pointing to the seventh video, but maintains that “it’s still not the footage Fiorina describes having watched.”
#share#To commandeer Ms. Kliff: Either these defenders haven’t watched the Planned Parenthood videos or they are knowingly misrepresenting the footage. In either case, the Fiorina pile-on is just another example of the eagerness of Planned Parenthood’s backers to zero in on specific details to avoid addressing the claims of widespread, systemic illegality — for example, Planned Parenthood officials haggling over prices for fetal remains (Potential Crime No. 1), Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they alter abortion procedures to procure “specimens” (Potential Crime No. 2), or Planned Parenthood officials murdering born-alive infants (Potential Crime No. 3). That sounds like a pattern. Perhaps someone should investigate! But Planned Parenthood and its defenders in the media and in government refuse even to countenance the possibility of an investigation. They’ve ignored the story at all costs.
But Carly Fiorina’s answer has forced them to respond. Barbara Boxer — whose views on “abortion rights” extend to literal infanticide — tweeted:
Shame on @CarlyFiorina and all the GOP candidates for attacking Planned Parenthood, which serves nearly 3 million Americans.
— Barbara Boxer (@BarbaraBoxer) September 17, 2015
And according to Politico, Hillary Clinton is likely to make Republicans’ opposition to Planned Parenthood a staple of her campaign: “What will matter for the Republicans a year from now is that each candidate stood on the stage and said they would defund Planned Parenthood,” Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told the outlet, “[and] would even favor shutting down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood. That is what’s going to stand out from this debate, and that’s what is going to matter a year from now.”
Good. It should stand out. Fiorina delivered a powerful statement that highlighted — perhaps for people who had never given it a thought — the spirit of barbarism that animates an organization that receives taxpayer dollars. Perhaps that is something unwitting Americans ought to think about.
#related#Let’s have this fight. It’s long past time that Planned Parenthood’s unchallenged status as the sine qua non of women’s health care be challenged. Why not talk about how Planned Parenthood, despite its vague “women’s health” rhetoric, does not provide services such as mammograms? Why not give Planned Parenthood’s $528 million subsidy to the 9,000 local Community Health Centers that provide women with a wider range of services (such as mammograms), that are more responsive to local health needs, and that don’t provide abortions? Secretary Clinton: Why not?
The majority of voters support a national 20-week abortion ban, and more women support the ban than men. The official abortion plank of the Democratic platform is opposed by 86 percent of voters. Carly and her fellow GOP candidates should keep talking about Planned Parenthood. The window is moving, and Democrats have only angry, empty rhetoric to counter it — or outright lies. Republicans can win this fight.