NOT “EVEN a scintilla of evidence.” That was the judgment of a federal judge last month in Texas about allegations of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. He was not alone in finding that the health-care organization did not illegally profit from fetal-tissue donation: Three Republican-led congressional investigations, 13 states and a Texas grand jury all could find no substance to claims about the alleged sale of “baby body parts,” which gained currency through videos released by anti-abortion activists.
It is important to point out these facts in light of an advertising campaign that uses misleading data and half-truths in a bid to whip up support in Congress for a cutoff of federal support to Planned Parenthood. While the would-be cutters suffered a setback with last week’s collapse of the Republicans’ attempted overhaul of health care, which also targeted Planned Parenthood, it is clear the threat remains and that misinformation will continue to be a key weapon.
“What is Planned Parenthood really about?” is the title of the slick ad that’s the work of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. The ad is effective in delivering its message — but then, it is easy to make a point if you cherry-pick information and don’t worry about staying true to the facts.
For example, in making the claim that Planned Parenthood has faced federal investigation for “selling baby body parts,” the ad doesn’t mention that the group was cleared repeatedly or that the videos that sparked the inquiries have been completely discredited. There are other distortions about breast-cancer screenings and vital health services offered at Planned Parenthood health centers. That’s not to mention the omissions, such as the fact that abortions, which constitute a small part of the organization’s services, are not paid for (with rare exceptions) with federal funds.
The ad’s most pernicious distortion centers on the argument that Congress should redirect the federal dollars that go to Planned Parenthood to “real health-care centers for women.” Studies and real-life practice have established that there simply are not enough community health centers to fill the gap that would be created if Planned Parenthood lost Medicaid funds. The truth is that a cutoff would tear a huge hole in the safety net for the 2.5 million patients — the majority of them low-income — who each year go to Planned Parenthood centers for basic medical needs. Congress should reject it.
Read more here: