On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards made the case for Hillary Clinton as a staunch defender of women’s rights. “Hillary has always been in Planned Parenthood’s corner because she knows women deserve someone who is in theirs,” Richards said.
Unlike the host of speakers on the convention’s first day, Richards did say the word “abortion” a few times in her speech. But the majority of her remarks focused on making it appear as if Planned Parenthood’s primary work is providing routine health-care treatments to millions of American women.
After mentioning that this year is the centennial of Planned Parenthood’s founding — without, of course, noting the documented eugenicist sympathies of its founder — Richards described the organization as “giving women the care they need to live their lives and chase their dreams — no limits, no ceilings.”
Richards attempted to prove that Planned Parenthood’s medical services are vital to American women, and, in turn, to argue that Clinton is the only candidate who will ensure that women continue receiving the proper care. “Each year, millions of people trust Planned Parenthood, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund trusts Hillary Clinton,” she said.
She went on to tout a number of Clinton’s achievements as evidence of the Democratic nominee’s dedication to improving people’s lives, implying that Planned Parenthood is similarly dedicated. Leading the list were Clinton’s bipartisan children’s health-insurance program, her championing of women and girls around the globe, her dedication to ending campus sexual assault, and her campaigns for equal pay, paid family leave, and affordable child care.
After this lengthy list, Richards promised that Clinton “will always stand up for the rights of every woman to access a full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, no matter her economic status.”
Richards told the story of a woman named Dana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and, thanks to the help of “Vivian, the Planned Parenthood clinician who stuck with her all the way through treatment,” is now cancer-free. “When Donald Trump and Mike Pence say they will defund Planned Parenthood,” she added, “They are talking about cutting women like Dana off of life-saving care.”
It’s certainly plausible that Dana’s story is true — and it is even possible that her story is not atypical — but Richards’ whitewashed portrayal of her organization’s practices as “life-saving care” simply isn’t accurate.
Planned Parenthood’s last few annual reports show that the organization provides well over 300,000 abortions per year. The group claims that this amounts to a mere 3 percent of its medical services, but that figure is skewed by the fact that the group counts each “discrete clinical interaction” as a separate “medical service,” meaning that a simple test, referral, or routine provision of birth control is given the same weight as a surgical or chemical abortions.
But even if the statistic she cited weren’t misleadingly calculated, it would be disingenuous for Richards to act as if an abortion is merely one normal medical service among many, as routine as getting a cavity filled or having knee surgery.
#related#If getting an abortion and having knee surgery were similar procedures, it would make no sense for nearly 80 percent of Americans to support substantial restrictions on abortion. And you don’t see thousands showing up every January for 43 straight years to march on Washington over the ethics of getting a cavity filled.
Clearly, there is something different about abortion: Each time the procedure is performed, a human life ends.
“Make no doubt about it, women’s health and lives are on the line and on the ballot this election,” Richards concluded. Perhaps that’s true, but the majority of lives actually on the line aren’t the ones she has in mind.
— Alexandra DeSanctis is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.