In November there was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic, remember? In Colorado Springs, Colo., where four people died. That incident may have been buried in the slew of other shootings around the country. But let us focus here.
As the man fired 20 shots from his semiautomatic rifle, he made remarks about “baby parts.” We can reasonably take these as a reference to a video released by an anti-Planned Parenthood group, which depicts Planned Parenthood workers dealing in the acquisition and exchange of fetal human body parts for profit.
Conservative politicians pounced on the opportunity to use these videos as evidence that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit, a legal infraction that would warrant governmental defunding of the organization. This is the latest tactic in a decades-long Republican fight to take away women’s reproductive rights, and the inflammatory nature of conservative rhetoric has reached new heights:
“It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn,” said Carly Fiorina.
From Rick Perry: “The video showing a Planned Parenthood employee selling the body parts of aborted children is a disturbing reminder of the organization’s penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life.”
The legitimacy of these videos has been questioned because of heavy editing, which involved the inclusion of a picture of a stillborn fetus—not an aborted one—as well as a clip of a nearly fully formed fetus dying on an operation table—a clip whose origins remain unclear. (It came from the archives of an antiabortion group that cannot or will not disclose when or where the incident took place.)
These inserted images seem to provide the emotional oomph for the videos—Fiorina referenced the latter clip in her fiery monologue at a debate—and so their inclusion we could call at best misleading and at worst outright fraudulent. In either case, the videos exemplify shoddy journalism, emotionally exploitative and manipulative.
But in some ways, the truth of the videos matters less than their effects: the victims of the Colorado Springs shooting remain dead, and Planned Parenthood now faces perhaps the biggest funding problem in its history, both on a national and on a state scale.
Although President Obama vetoed the congressional move to defund it, no doubt the fire will burn on, with the videos serving as the most recent fuel. State governments in Texas and Utah (where else?) have defunded or sought to defund Planned Parenthood programs—although, sadly, these include programs providing sex education and STI prevention resources. In Texas, the effort included the defunding of HIV testing and prevention programs.
Though there remains a startlingly strong puritanical vein in American culture, let’s hope it doesn’t win the day. No doubt puritans and heathens alike enjoy the benefits of services provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood, whether they realize it or not.
According to its website, “2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers for trusted health care services and information.”
If you’d like to show support for Planned Parenthood, you can come to the Railyard, 2526 Montana Ave., for a “Saturday Nite Punk-O-Rama” benefit show on Jan. 23, starting at 5 p.m.
There’ll be a bunch of local bands (Megagiant, The Budgets, Idaho Green, No Cigar, Snow Bored, deadbeats, Grant Atticus) and some comedy (Kyle Kulseth), as well as a raffle. The cover charge is $6, and all proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood. The show is all ages.
Phillip Griffin recently received degrees in English and philosophy from the University of Montana, and has moved back to Billings with his fiancée and his cat, Mitch. He plays bass with the local band Idaho Green, and he cut his teeth in the Billings music scene with The Forestry. He has a passion for vegetables and environmental issues, and he needs a job. You can go here to find the Facebook page created for the benefit show.