Friday, September 25, 2015

"Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

In case you think that conservative House Republicans have any shred of objectivity left, here's the title of the Judiciary Committee's investigation of Planned Parenthood:
 "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

Note:  This post evolved over time and wanders wider than I expected, but it's all related.
I found this when I was looking to see what the investigation actually found.  It seems this isn't an investigation.  It's more like a Congressional lynching.

What can I say?  This appears to be part of an orchestrated plan to surreptitiously get into the Planned Parenthood offices and make video tapes that could then be edited into a shocking 'exposé' which could then be used to stir up so called 'pro-life' folks and be used at hearings like this.  I'd blogged a little about this recently already.

Though I imagine for true believers who never ask questions about things that support the predisposed beliefs, they are so outraged that they think this should be given as much publicity as possible to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all.

Defunding Planned Parenthood was also part of the revisions that Sen. Dunleavy tried to slip into his revised Erin's Law during the special legislative session this summer.  It  specifically prohibited school districts from contracting with PP (it didn't label them by name, but it was for 'abortion providers') and even from contracting with any organization that contracted with abortion providers.   It got cut out, but you can see this is a strategy the Republicans must be trying out all over.

Back to the US House Judiciary Committee.  There was one witness who defended Planned Parenthood -Ms. Priscilla Smith, Director and Senior Fellow, Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, Information Society Project, Yale Law School.  You might want to read her testimony

The other witnesses included:

And two women who say they are survivors of botched abortions.  [Normally I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but since much of their testimony is either misleading or flat out false, I can't be sure they are who they say they are.]

You can read their testimony at the links as well.   But let me show you why I'm skeptical.  Here's a bit from Jessen's testimonry:
"Planned Parenthood receives $500 million dollars of taxpayer money a year, to primarily destroy and dismember babies. Do not tell me these are not children. A heartbeat proves that. So does 4-d ultrasound. So do I, and so does the fact that they are selling human organs for profit."
And here's from an aggressive interview on Here and Now with Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at:
The $500 million being raised here is money that goes directly to pay for preventive health care services that women choose to receive from Planned Parenthood, so those are reimbursements like any health care provider would get, or any hospital would get, for receiving a Pap test, a breast exam, STD testing and treatment, birth control – not for abortion services, because that is prohibited by law in this country.”
Did you catch that?    There's no appropriation to give Planned Parenthood $500 million.  It's a reimbursement for health services (not including abortions), just like the reimbursements that every health provider gets.  The fact that they get so much is a testament, I would think, to how many people (men as well as women) seek their help.   You can listen to the whole Here and Now interview:

Ms. Jessen also seemed particularly riled up about a quote from Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.  Or maybe she thought it would rile up the committee members.  Her testimony says,
"Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said the following: 'The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
–Margaret Sanger, “Woman and the New Race'”
I found that pretty provocative myself, so I looked up the book. has it available free in a bunch of different formats.

First, this was published in1920.  Eugenics Archive gives us the context of the American culture when Sanger wrote this:
Eugenic ideology was deeply embedded in American popular culture during the 1920s and 1930s. For example, on Saturday night, high school students might go to the cinema to see "The Black Stork" – a film that supported eugenic sterilization. In church on Sunday, they might listen to a sermon selected for an award by the American Eugenics Society – learning that human improvement required marriages of society's "best" with the "best."
Second, the quote is taken out of the context.  Sanger wrote that a very high percentage of children died within the first five years of life at that time.  She talks about the environment of crowded homes and large families of the poor.  How there was no privacy inside and out on the streets was full of dangers too.  She also discusses how large families make life hard for the women in more comfortable households. Her language varies from dry and academic in some sections to a bit melodramatic in others.  I've highlighted the original quote from Jessen's testimony: 
"The direct relationship between the size of the wage-earner's family and the death of children less than one year old has been revealed by a number of studies of the infant death rate. One of the clearest of these was that made by Arthur Geissler among miners and cited by Dr. Alfred Ploetz before the First International Eugenic Congress. [Footnote: Problems in Eugenics, London , 1913.] Taking 26,000 births from unselected marriages, and omitting families having one and two children, Geissler got this result:
Deaths During First Year.

1st born children 23%
2nd " " 20%
3rd " " 21%
4th " " 23%
]5th " " 26%
6th " " 29%
7th " " 31%
8th " " 33%
9th " " 36%
10th " " 41%
11th " " 51%
12th " " 60%
Thus we see that the second and third children have a very good chance to live through the first year. Children arriving later have less and less chance, until the twelfth has hardly any chance at all to live twelve months. This does not complete the case, however, for those who care to go farther into the subject will find that many of those who live for a year die before they reach the age of five. Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it. The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate, and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five, operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members. Moreover, the overcrowded homes of large families reared in poverty further contribute to this condition. Lack of medical attention is still another factor, so that the child who must struggle for health in competition with other members of a closely packed family has still great difficulties to meet after its poor constitution and malnutrition have been accounted for.
 The book is about birth control and freeing women by giving them so control over their own bodies. 
The basic freedom of the world is woman's freedom. A free race cannot be born of slave mothers. A woman enchained cannot choose but give a measure of that bondage to her sons and daughters. No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

Wikipedia describes her position on abortion this way:
"She also wanted to prevent unsafe abortions, so-called back-alley abortions,[3] which were common at the time because abortions were usually illegal.[citation needed] She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid the use of abortions.[4]"

It seems to me that a large number of folks on the far right have worked themselves into a frenzy - with help from Fox News and various figures who have wrapped themselves in religious facades.  They live in a world of us and them.  Facts no longer matter.  People who support abortion rights are linked to Satan. [Note, the link from Militant Church is ambiguous.  It doesn't actually say the rituals described are sanctioned by Planned Parenthood, but it leaves the association very clear for its readers.]

NOTE:  I've been putting notes on this together for several days now and thought it was close to ready when I heard today that Speaker of the House Boehner will resign by the end of October.  While the reasons are still fairly speculative, the constant fighting with what the media call "the conservative wing" of the party (but I'd call the mob wing) plus the Pope's visit are being mentioned by many of the commentators.  Specifically, they say that this likely insures a budget without language that would mean Planned Parenthood could no longer be reimbursed for normal, non-abortion related health services.  In this New York Times article, Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, seems to agree with my 'mob wing' characterization, though a bit more politely when he says:
". . .  there had been “a lot of sadness in the room” when Mr. Boehner made his announcement to colleagues, and he blamed the House’s hard-right members, who he said were unwilling to govern. “It’s clear to me that the rejectionist members of our conference clearly had an influence on his decision,” Mr. Dent said. “That’s why I’m not happy about what happened today. We still have important issues to deal with, and this will not be easier for the next guy.”
“The dynamics are this,” he continued. “There are anywhere from two to four dozen members who don’t have an affirmative sense of governance. They can’t get to yes. They just can’t get to yes, and so they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead. And not only do they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead, but they undermine the entire Republican conference and also help to weaken the institution of Congress itself. That’s the reality.
I'd also note that the Senate rejected a budget bill with language to defund Planned Parenthood.  Kudos to Sen. Murkowski for voting against this bill.

But lest people on the left feel a bit smug as they watch Boehner's departure, let's consider our own mob wing who demonize opponents and don't hear their genuine complaints.  College Conservative cites James Madison's concerns about mob rule and says that concern is still relevant today.  But the writer thinks it applies to the Left.

Finally, let me note my sense of abortion.  I believe people on all sides of this debate would like to see as few abortions as possible.  No one thinks an abortion is, in itself, a good thing.    People who are pro-choice support sex education so that girls and women do not get pregnant by mistake.  My sense is that many in the anti-abortion crowd are also strongly moralistic about sex and feel that sex education programs encourage kids to have sex.  Personally, I don't think kids need encouragement - their bodies are wired for sex.  They need to know how to handle those instincts.  I also believe that in this zeal to prevent sex before marriage, this group inadvertently results in many girls and young women becoming pregnant.  The stigma of the pregnancy because of the moralistic approach to sex boosts the number of abortions.  That's pretty simplistic.  I also think that part of the anti-abortion crowd is simply about men wanting to control women, but that's for another post. 

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