By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research
Faced with clinic closings and legislative defeats, Planned Parenthood’s political arm (Planned Parenthood Action Fund) is in the process of spending $16 million in this fall’s races. To gin up contributions, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has sent out a fiery but fact-challenged appeal fundraising letter to would-be supporters.
This massive political involvement may come as somewhat of a surprise to those who imagine Planned Parenthood to be just a “women’s health care provider,” the image PPFA so carefully cultivates. But, in fact, the nation’s largest abortion performer and promoter has also long been one of the biggest players on the political scene, spending millions to put politicians in office who will defend the killing of unborn babies and keep the taxpayer dollars flowing their way.
Ironically, while Richards opens with the statement “This has got to stop. Politics has no place in women’s health care[,]” Planned Parenthood then spends the rest of the letter detailing why folks need to send “a generous contribution of $50, $75, $100, $500 or more” to aid in “changing the political landscape,” to “protect the pro-women’s health majority in the U.S. Senate” (“because the Senate approves Supreme Court nominees, we can prevent the Court from tilting further away from women’s rights”), to “show the power of women’s votes by electing candidates who support women’s health care and Planned Parenthood and defeating those who don’t.”
While there are the usual “sky is falling” pleas about access to birth control and threats to “women’s health care,” it is significant to note that in the four page letter, “abortion” appears no less than 16 times. Several of these are in complaints about “anti-abortion groups,” “protesters,” or “extremists,” and their actions thwarting Planned Parenthood’s agenda. But others make Planned Parenthood’s profound abortion commitment more explicit.
One of their biggest complaints is about “irrational and often dangerous laws” such as “abortion restrictions” in North Carolina, “so-called patient safety laws” in Virginia, required “counseling” and waiting periods in South Dakota, limits imposed by a state medical board on “telemedicine” (web-cam) abortions in Iowa, and a new Ohio law requiring abortionists to have “special agreements with local hospitals” (e.g., transfer agreements, admitting privileges which is an increasingly common and necessary requirement ).
Absent from the letter, of course, is anything about the filthy and dangerous conditions discovered at clinics like Planned Parenthood’s Wilmington, Delaware facility, women who’ve died after taking abortion drug RU-486 at Planned Parenthood clinics, or videos showing how some Planned Parenthood counselors ignore or evade informed consent, parental involvement, or statutory rape reporting laws.
Under the circumstances, it seems like it would be “rational” to assume that the more “dangerous” course for women would be to let Planned Parenthood continue to operate its abortion mills unregulated.
In the letter, Richards holds up two states as examples of what Planned Parenthood has done and will do.
Planned Parenthood offers Virginia as proof that “We know how to win for women.” Without directly mentioning the cool million that Planned Parenthood put into ads in the closing days of last year’s very close gubernatorial campaign, Richards says that “we reached out all across the political spectrum, explaining the stakes to women and making it clear which candidate would protect their health and rights – and which would not.”
Unsaid is how Planned Parenthood manipulated and distorted perceptions of women in the Commonwealth, making it sound like the pro-life Republican candidate wanted to take away women’s birth control and cancer screenings, neither of which were remotely true.
Although carried along by a compliant media and buoyed by a vast superiority in campaign funds, Terry McAuliffe, the PPFA-backed pro-abortion Democrat , won by just 2.5%. Planned Parenthood says that “women’s votes made all the difference,” and though there were obviously other factors in play, exit polls did show that young single women – the target constituency for Planned Parenthood’s misleading ads – did go heavily for the Democrat.
While the previous pro-life Republican administration in Virginia had been able to put in place some of the badly needed clinic regulations Planned Parenthood complained about, Richards noted that “the new governor we helped elect has beat back attacks on women’s health care and is working to expand access to affordable birth control, cancer screenings, and safe, legal abortion.” (No mention of making abortion “rare.”)
There hasn’t been much in the press about the McAuliffe’s efforts to expand “cancer screenings” at Planned Parenthood, but Townhall.com did feature the following headline on its May 14, 2014 website: “‘Bankrolled’ by Planned Parenthood, McAuliffe pushes looser abortion rules clinic rules.”
The other state featured in Planned Parenthood’s fundraising letter is Texas. Richards declares “In my home state of Texas, for example, the governor and the legislature pulled every trick in the book to push through a wildly unpopular law that fully implemented could close all but a handful of women’s health facilities, leaving hundreds of thousands of women with nowhere to turn for care.”
(For all the handwringing about closing clinics, it should be noted that two Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates have already announced plans to open giant new abortion megaclinics in Dallas and San Antonio intended to be fully compliant with the new law. They, too, are using the passage of the new laws as part of their pitch for new funds.)
In that one sentence from Richards there are numerous errors and misstatements that need deconstructing. Here are just a few.
The law may have been “wildly unpopular” in Planned Parenthood’s circles and among the throngs they bused in from all over the country, but it passed handily among Texas’ elected representatives (male and female) and was signed by a governor Texans returned to office three times.
The law’s focus was not on closing “women’s health facilities” but on halting abortions on pain-capable unborn children; requiring abortionists to follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s prescribing protocol for RU-486; ensuring that abortionists would have hospital admitting privileges so they could accompany women who had suffered complications; and placing safeguards on previously poorly regulated abortion clinics.
As long as they did not perform abortions or met the commonsense requirements, the centers were unaffected. If clinics closed, it was due to their insistence on offering abortions without needed safeguards for women, not due to any effort by legislators to conspire against women needing health care.
Richards does take the opportunity to promote Planned Parenthood’s latest “feminist icon,” gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, the state Senator who led a “heroic 11-hour filibuster” of a pro-life law that eventually passed anyway. The letter manages not to mention that in opposing HB 2, Davis was, among other things, defending late abortions. Richards described the pro-abortion mob that descended on Austin during the filibuster as part of a “grassroots uproar against the reckless new law” that Planned Parenthood called “the most inspiring fight for women’s health we’ve seen in years.”
Put that in context of plans already announced by Planned Parenthood to spend $3 million in Texas elections in 2014 to elect Davis and other key pro-abortion candidates.
Planned Parenthood says that
“Now in 2014, we need more boots on the ground. We need more trained activists engaging in direct voter contact, face-to-face, aboutwhat these elections mean in terms of safe, legal abortion… We need women to understand how much their vote matters – to themselves, their daughters, and to women all across the country who are having a hard time getting the care they need.”
The message of the letter is clear. Planned Parenthood is going to be raising and spending lots of money in this fall’s election, peddling myths about threats to women’s health to get voters to the polls and to defend, fund, and expand their abortion empire.