Following the release of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donations, rightwing politicians continue to call for defunding Planned Parenthood. Even though the videos have been discredited as fraudulently-edited and obtained under false pretenses, and even though defunding the organization would deny healthcare to thousands of women, the ginned-up controversy won’t go away.
Why? The controversy is being fueled by rightwing media, including Fox News Channel. They apparently see abortion as a wedge issue for the 2016 elections – particularly since they are likely to face the nation’s first serious female presidential candidate.
We’ve seen this drama play out before. A surreptitious and unscrupulous right wing group lies to gain access to an organization. Then it edits the videos to portray that organization in a false manner. The Republicans in Congress become outraged – outraged I say – and demand that the organization be stripped of all federal funds. Then, sometime later, it is proven that the videos were fraudulent, but it doesn’t matter, because the damage has been done.
It happened to ACORN. It happened to Shirley Sherrod of the Department of Agriculture. And it happened to the NAACP.
Now it’s Planned Parenthood that’s in the Republican crosshairs despite the fact that, according to a 2013 Gallup Poll, 53 percent of Americans support legal abortions, while only 29 percent oppose the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. But the will of the people seldom matters to the Republican ideologues. Neither do the rights of women and minorities.
In reality, Planned Parenthood operates more than 700 healthcare clinics nationwide. Abortion represents only 3 percent of the organization’s activities. It does not sell fetal tissue. But, in some states, it does permit women to donate fetal tissue in order to help them make the best of a bad situation. The majority of Planned Parenthood’s work consists of family planning, STD prevention and treatment, and primary medical care. Its clinics are an important part of the nation’s healthcare system. Without them, many families would have to travel long distances for care or be denied care altogether.
Nevertheless, in their continuing attempts to divide the nation in order to gain votes while depressing votes for their opponents, Republicans are willing to put all of that at risk. That’s why they continue to incite the uninformed and the misinformed with continuing attacks. It’s a hateful and cynical strategy.
Let’s make sure it’s also a failed strategy.