The Post’s View

Va.’s Cuccinelli plays fast and loose with the facts on abortion

E.W. JACKSON, the fire-breathing pastor who stunned the Republican establishment by storming the party convention in Virginia and snatching the nomination for lieutenant governor, has been roundly mocked for saying Planned Parenthood has been “far more lethal to black lives” than has the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the idea that Planned Parenthood is a racist, even genocidal enterprise, while scurrilous and estranged from the truth, is an article of faith among some right-wing Republicans — among them Herman Cain, the flash-in-the-pan presidential contestant in last year’s GOP primaries, and Mr. Jackson’s running mate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the party’s candidate for governor.

The history of Planned Parenthood and its founder, Margaret Sanger, has been used pliably by Mr. Jackson, Mr. Cuccinelli and their ilk. Their thesis is that Ms. Sanger, who died in 1966, was a racist, intent on exterminating African Americans by means of abortion, and that her chosen vehicle was Planned Parenthood. (Mr. Cain said, shamelessly, that the organization’s founding mission was “planned genocide” to “help kill black babies before they came into the world.”)

Washington Post Editorials

Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board. News reporters and editors never contribute to editorial board discussions, and editorial board members don’t have any role in news coverage.

Read more

Latest Editorials

A vote of confidence

A vote of confidence

The presidential election in Afghanistan offers a welcome result.

Virginia is for voting

Virginia is for voting

Gov. McAuliffe, building on his predecessor’s moves, expands voting rights for ex-convicts.

After hate, love

After hate, love

An Easter message of peace following the shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas.

In a wobbly attempt to bring that indictment up to date, conservatives and pro-life activists, including Mr. Cuccinelli and Mr. Jackson, like to suggest that Planned Parenthood targets African Americans for abortions today by concentrating its clinics in black communities.

The accusations are baseless. According to investigations by PolitiFact and The Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, Ms. Sanger was enamored of the eugenics movement, broadly popular a century ago, which held that better breeding would produce a superior society. However, according to PolitiFact, there is no evidence that she either advocated “genocide” for blacks or believed they were genetically inferior. The birth control clinic she opened in Harlem in the 1930s didn’t perform abortions, and it was supported by black leaders, including W.E.B. Du Bois.

So much for then. As for now, the charge that Planned Parenthood targets African Americans today is equally fantastic. A nonprofit organization, its 800 centers provide a broad range of health-care services, most of them preventive, primarily in rural and medically underserved areas. The Post’s Mr. Kessler is among those who have concluded that most clinics are not in primarily black communities.

Abortion rates in the United States are higher for African Americans and Hispanics than for other groups. That reflects the fact that those groups tend to have higher rates of unwanted pregnancies. To blame the incidence of abortion on the clinics that provide abortion services is like blaming stores that sell cigarettes for the fact that too many Americans smoke.

Mr. Cuccinelli has written that Planned Parenthood’s sex-education programs in the nation’s schools are “a loss leader” for the organization, whose real goal is to hook youngsters into seeking “abortion on demand.” That conspiratorial view does not align with reality, but it does square with Mr. Cuccinelli’s general disdain for any facts that pose an obstacle to his ideological agenda.

 
Read what others are saying