The cost of anti-abortion lies

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By Isabel Gibson Penrose, Opinions Editor

This past July the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-abortion organization founded by activists with no medical expertise, released the first in a series of videos claiming to prove that Planned Parenthood illegally sells aborted baby parts. Planned Parenthood was heavily criticized, and many Republicans promised to investigate the organization. Republicans in Congress even took steps to try to get Planned Parenthood defunded, despite the fact that federal funds are not allocated to abortion services.

The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993 allows women to donate fetal tissue after an abortion. Selling fetal tissue is illegal. Donating it, which is what happens at a few Planned Parenthood clinics around the country, is not.

These videos, the actions of the CMP and the rhetoric of the Republicans who went after Planned Parenthood are problematic because they perpetuate lies about Planned Parenthood and abortion services in general. These lies now have a tangible and tragic cost. Last Friday, Robert Lewis Dear shot and killed three people and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic. It has been reported by police sources that Dear said “no more baby parts” as part of his statement after he was taken into custody.

The “baby parts” narrative comes directly from months’ worth of misinformation that Americans have been fed about Planned Parenthood and abortion services. During a September debate between Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina described a video that takes place in a Planned Parenthood clinic, saying she watched “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive it harvest its brain.’” No such video exists, and despite being repeatedly called out, Fiorina has refused to admit she lied.

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson could have used his medical expertise to assure fellow Republicans about the validity of fetal tissue donation. After all, Carson himself used fetal tissue for medical research in 1992. Instead, he joined the hunt against Planned Parenthood, saying, “I may not be completely objective about Planned Parenthood, because I know how they started with Margaret Sanger who believed in eugenics.” Right, because everyone knows that the values of a person who founded something are held forever after its founding. For example, many of America’s founders had slaves, and therefore Americans believes in slavery. Oh, that’s not true? Groups and organizations can evolve and grow? Someone tell Carson, it’s embarrassing he doesn’t comprehend that.

Republican Presidential candidates aren’t the only members of the party going after Planned Parenthood. In September, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, headed by Republican Representative from Utah Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz presented a graph that purported to show Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings decreasing over time, while their abortion numbers spiked.

Richards pointed out that graph’s source was an antiabortion group, which caused Chaffetz to stutter, “We will get to the bottom of the truth of that.” Start getting, and quick!

When so many prominent members of the Republican Party are willfully spreading misinformation, it is not surprising that some of the American people have absorbed it. I ventured into the seventh circles of hell that are Internet comment sections and found gems like, “Planned Parenthood is so hypocritical…why are they not defending the shooters right to choose:)?” and, “I feel far more badly about the thousands and thousands of lives stolen at that Planned Parenthood death center than I do the two abortionists who were killed” – a statement that is as horrific as it is inaccurate, as no Planned Parenthood employees were killed during the attack. Here’s a gentle reminder that when an abortion is conducted, nobody is killed. Clusters of cells the size of peanuts are not people. Abortion providers are not murderers. Misinformation about abortion services runs incredibly deep in our country, and it has been allowed to flourish thanks to the efforts of many on the political right.

Conservatives tried to deny the reality of this attack as soon as they could. Completely false claims that the shooter was actually a bank robber of Chase nearby emerged, and that the attack was random and not politically motivated emerged almost immediately. Republican Presidential Candidate and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee tweeted: “The Colorado Springs tragedy is domestic terrorism, especially for those [of] us in the pro-life movement.” Acknowledging that this tragedy was an act of terror is unexpected, but Huckabee squanders that important message with the second half of the tweet. It is gross and absurd to imply this shooting is more so a tragedy for pro-lifers than other people.

In fact, I would argue that the pro-life movement is responsible for this shooting. Nobody put the gun in Dear’s hands, but the pro-life movement absolutely put the idea in his head. They spread lie upon lie to the American people and fed people’s rage with misinformation until finally someone was so convinced by the rhetoric that he took drastic, violent action. It is time for the Center for Medical Progress, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and everyone else who has been stirring up anger and hate with baseless accusations against Planned Parenthood to start telling the truth. Their lies have quite literally become a matter of life and death.

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