OPINION — The Republican Party has been gunning for Planned Parenthood for decades. Now, it seems, the GOP is latching onto a video that alleges wrongdoing on the part of the organization saying it supplies fetal tissue to researchers for profit.
They have turned a scientific process into a macabre exercise in semantics by referring to the practice as “selling body parts” from aborted fetuses. While human tissues are technically body parts, the language used here is certainly inflammatory, particularly when you realize that without access to human tissues, science would not have been able to create a vaccine for polio and would be stymied in research efforts for AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and other diseases that afflict us.
This sort of research has been going on since the 1930s, so this is, in reality, nothing new. It is only now, when the Republicans are looking for yet another plank to stand on that resonates with the religious right, that it is becoming a major issue.
That’s why there is so much political grandstanding going on in the run-up to the 2016 election. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of the GOP presidential hopefuls, canceled his state’s contract with Planned Parenthood as a result of this video. The thing is, neither of the two Louisiana Planned Parenthood facilities offers abortions.
In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered that the state will stop disbursing federal funds to Planned Parenthood. For the record, only one of the Utah Planned Parenthood facilities offers abortions.
And, at least 10 other very red states — including Florida, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina — have ordered investigations into Planned Parenthood’s tissue program.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party, there is no consistency in all of this moral braggadocio. You see, the GOP is very big on the business of preaching abstinence – only in our schools. It is against requiring health insurance companies to pay for contraception. It is also steadfast against government assistance for poor, single mothers.
That’s where the hypocrisy comes into play.
The GOP wants to tell women what to do with their bodies, wants to protect what it terms the “sanctity of the unborn life,” yet denies support, or at least some sort of assistance, for that life once it enters the world. It’s an unfair penance placed upon a woman and child. Besides, if conservatives were so truly “life-centric,” isn’t it contradictory for them to be so steadfastly in support of capital punishment?
Planned Parenthood has had a huge impact on U.S. culture since 1916, when it sprung from a little birth control clinic opened in Brooklyn by women’s activist Margaret Sanger, who was arrested for distributing information on contraception.
Sanger, it must be noted, was not an advocate of abortion. In fact, she viewed it as something that was sometimes justified but should generally be avoided. Sanger argued that contraception was the only practical way to avoid abortions.
The impact was swift and wide.
Women learned, as a result of Planned Parenthood, about their own bodies, have become better able to take care of themselves — whether afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease or cancer — and put in charge of their own sexuality, something many men are uncomfortable with.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has been unfairly described as an abortion factory. The truth is that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s funding goes in that direction. The remainder goes to services and education aimed at not only women’s reproductive health, but their general health and welfare.
But, in the war on women — let’s be honest, that’s what this really is — that doesn’t stack up well with the “keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant” crowd of the religious right who are threatened at the specter of a powerful woman.
So, they take advantage of every chance they get to disparage Planned Parenthood. I seriously doubt most GOP politicians have taken a serious look at the organization, otherwise we wouldn’t get such nonsense as Jindal’s shutting down Louisiana’s contract with Planned Parenthood or Herbert’s order to stop disbursal of federal funds to the group.
Women with breast cancer have saved or extended their lives thanks to the exams given at Planned Parenthood. STDs have been held in check, thanks to the testing and treatment available at Planned Parenthood centers. And, who knows how many accidental births have been prevented as a result of contraception made available through Planned Parenthood.
If the Republicans want to pick a fight and draw an even deeper line in the sand between the right-to-lifers and those who are pro-choice, that’s fine.
But, before you take that first swing, check your hypocrisy at the door.
If you are that concerned about the welfare of children and that profound in your defense of the unborn, you’d darned well better back it up with better assistance for single mothers, better health care coverage for women and children, and, while we’re at it, beefed up education funds for our children.
Otherwise, your words are meaningless, your morality questionable.
Be consistent, it’s something we can all respect.
Be honest, and don’t pluck misleading numbers or statistics and use them as a basis for your attack. The jury is still out on the video in question.
The consensus, however, seems to be that when all is said and done, it will be a case of much ado about nothing, as it was in 2000 when Planned Parenthood faced a similar accusation when one of its affiliate clinics in Kansas was accused of illegally selling fetal tissue. The FBI was called in to investigate those allegations and concluded that the clinic did not break any laws.
Of course, by the time the group clears its name in this latest dust-up, the GOP will most certainly have switched gears and found yet another issue of morality with which to stick it to the Democrats. But until then, look for even more red state governors to follow the knee-jerk, and possibly illegal, reactions of Herbert and Jindal.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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