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Friday, 14 April 2017 05:27

Planned Parenthood Yet Again in the Right’s Crosshairs

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PP 0414wrp(Photo: S. MiRK)

According to the Associated Press, President Donald Trump is poised “to sign legislation erasing an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.” It is not the first time the organization, that provides invaluable health services to countless numbers of underserved women, has been in the anti-abortion movement’s crosshairs.

Not to be confused by the facts that only a very small percentage of its work revolves around providing abortion services – offered sans federal funding -- with the White House and Congress firmly controlled by Republicans, there is every indication that Planned Parenthood may be stripped of the $500-+-million a year it receives in government funding.

While the attacks on Planned Parenthood have run the gamut from clinic bombings to threats to clinic staffers, from rabid demonstrations outside clinics to picketing the homes, and leafleting the neighborhoods, of doctors providing abortions, the tool du jour these days is the surreptitious, and thoroughly doctored, video taping of unaware Planned Parenthood staffers.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times’ Jeremy Breningstall, Elizabeth D. Herman and Paige St. John, reported on the activities of David Daleiden “and a small circle of anti-abortion activists [that] went undercover into meetings of abortion providers and women’s health groups. With fake IDs and tiny hidden cameras, they sought to capture Planned Parenthood officials making inflammatory statements.”

Daleiden, head of the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress -- a poorly-disguised front for anti-abortion activists -- and a veteran of making surreptitious videos, and his associates are “being sued by Planned Parenthood and other groups, accusing them of fraud and invasion of privacy,” the LA Times reported in late March. “In January, a Houston grand jury that had been investigating the videos cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted Daleiden and fellow activist Sandra Merritt on felony charges of tampering with government records — using fake California driver’s licenses to arrange meetings with Planned Parenthood officials in Houston."

Troy Newman, of the anti-abortion outfit Operation Rescue, was listed as one of the officers of the Center for Medical Progress when it was “registered with California as a charitable trust in 2013,” the LA Times’ Robin Abcarian recently reported. In a August 2015, interview with Jerry Newcome, an evangelical radio talk-show host, Newman said that the idea for videos exposing Planned Parenthood were born in his office three years earlier in his office in Wichita, Kansas.

Bustle’s Sarah Friedmann recently pointed out that “financial disclosure forms show that Kellyanne Conway consulted for the Planned Parenthood sting video creators via their organization called the Center for Medical Progress.”

The report “also revealed that she has previously consulted for a variety of other anti-choice and conservative advocacy groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life of America, Concerned Women for America, and the National Right to Life Committee, according to Rewire.”

Regardless of the legal consequences, Daleiden and company has accomplished at least one of his goals: stir up the bile of the anti-abortion movement, and provide talking points for anti-abortion lawmakers. The videos resulted in a "flood of hate speech, threats and violence" to abortion providers, said Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation.

“While the tapes have shown no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, their release has had other terrible consequences,” Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, wrote in an op-ed piece for the Sacramento Bee. “Immediately following the release, Planned Parenthood experienced a nine-fold increase in threats of violence against our providers and health centers. Moreover, real medical research – research looking to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases – has been stymied by the actions of radicals whose only goal is to ban abortion and shut down Planned Parenthood (an organization that nearly 75 percent of the American public supports).”

The Associated Press recently reported that President Donald Trump was “expected to sign legislation erasing an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.” The legislation passed in the House, and “squeezed narrowly through the Senate last month after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

AP reported that “It was passed using an obscure measure called the Congressional Review Act, which lets lawmakers undo regulations enacted in the last months of the Obama administration with just a majority vote.”

Furious Fight-Back Against Defunders

Supporters of Planned Parenthood appear to be mobilizing like never before; refusing to go gently into that good night.

An international group of musicians, including Foo Fighters, John Legend, Bjork, Bon Iver, and Mary J.  Blige, are putting together a compilation series of seven-inch vinyl records called “7 inches for Planned Parenthood” to raise funds.

Billboard reported that “the project also includes comedians (including Sarah Silverman, Janeane Garofalo, Tig Notaro, Aparna Nancherla and Margaret Cho), writers and activists (Margaret Atwood, dream hampton, Dr. Willie Parker and Heather McGhee) and the work of visual artists (Angela Pilgrim, Shepard Fairey, Mark Fox, Rashid Johnson and William Villalongo among others).”

“This curated series of 7-inch vinyl records is being made by a group of people who believe that access to healthcare is a public good that should be fiercely protected,” a promotional post reads.  

In addition, benefits concerts and theater performances have been staged, rallies and marches held, and more are being organized.

Petitions in support of Planned Parenthood have been delivered to assorted state houses. Donations to the organization are on the rise.

Some states have already indicated that it will not allow Planned Parenthood to go down in flames. Earlier this month, “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan allowed a bill to become law on April 6 that will provide $2.7 million in state money to Planned Parenthood if Congress and President Trump cut off federal taxpayer funding to the abortion corporation,” LifeSiteNews reported.

While the GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, while zeroing out Planned Parenthood, failed, anti-abortion forces are hopeful the issue will be raised again when Congress returns from its two-week break. Vice President Pence, who has been trying to cobble together a new effort to kill Obamacare, recently held a White House meeting with anti-abortion activists. Thus far no consensus has emerged.

As best-selling author and current san Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot recently wrote: “There is indeed something deeply unsettling about a man like Trump – whose boasts about what he can do to women’s bodies with impunity became a defining moment of the 2016 campaign – again crowing about his control of women, this time through the power of the federal budget.”