Opinion

Giving the lie another try: ThinkProgress misleads readers on Planned Parenthood

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It doesn’t matter what Planned Parenthood is caught on tape doing; it seems their professional apologists in the blogosphere will never budge from the fiction that there’s “no evidence” they’ve done anything wrong.

At ThinkProgress, Jess Colarossi writes that Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s announced finding of “no basis to believe that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue or profiting from fetal tissue donations” or illegally performing partial-birth abortions is a “particularly meaningful” development in the ongoing witch-hunt against the poor, benevolent abortion provider, because Washington “is one of the only two states where the organization currently offers abortion patients the option to donate fetal tissue for medical and scientific research.”

There are just a couple of problems with that, though.

“Currently” dodges the fact that we know PP affiliates in more than two states have participated in the “donation” program in 2015 alone, including California, Colorado, and Texas. We don’t truly know how many affiliates were involved before the media scrutiny began. And the governments of California and Colorado—the states where we know PP is engaged in morally and legally dubious practices, because they’re where the bulk of the Center for Medical Progress’s shocking footage was captured—have refused to investigate.

Republican state officials started launching investigations into Planned Parenthood affiliates in early August, after a misleading series of videos released by Center for Medical Progress accused the organization of illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. The heavily edited videos have been widely referenced by GOP lawmakers in attempts to defund the health clinics and have resulted in state-wide investigations.

Uh, ThinkProgress? When multiple forensic analyses can’t find any “deceptive edits” and even CNN’s Anderson Cooper notices you never mention what’s been deceptively edited, maybe it’s time to stop repeating it like a chant meant to ward off evil spirits. Unless, that is, you want to come across as the very sort of propagandists you’re pretending to denounce…

So far, they have all come up empty. Officials in states like Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Missouri have not been able to turn up any evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics are violating state laws and regulations regarding the collection of fetal tissue donations.

In addition to the above qualifiers pointing out that the states where there’s the most cause for concern have received the least scrutiny, let’s recall that the vast majority of states in the union either haven’t concluded their investigations or haven’t launched any at all.

And in point of fact, “all come up empty” is misleading for another reason: the finished investigations may not have found evidence of wrongdoing specific to CMP’s accusations, but they have dug up other misdeeds by Planned Parenthood. For instance, South Carolina health officials recently announced that PP could face over $50,000 in fines for improper disposal of dead fetuses, while Florida investigators found that PP clinics were illegally doing second-trimester abortions without the proper licensing.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards confirmed last month that her group’s affiliates will no longer accept any reimbursements for the cost of collecting and transporting fetal tissue samples. Richards explained in her statement that, although it’s legal for abortion clinics to receive reimbursement for the costs incurred by fetal tissue donation, her organization is taking steps to “completely debunk the disingenuous argument” that Planned Parenthood is improperly profiting from this practice.

In other words, Richards admitted the move was damage control rather than a moral stand. But if the practice was completely above board, why stop it? After all, just a couple months ago she was proud of it.

She also pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s role in fetal tissue research is “an extremely small part” of what they do — just 1 percent of the health centers facilitate tissue donation for scientific research.

Whether that’s true remains to be seen. It’s certainly hard to square with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast research director Melissa Farrell bragging on tape during a discussion of this “one percent” that “my department contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here.”

Despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing, Richards was still grilled by the GOP lawmakers for more than five hours in October as they questioned whether or not Planned Parenthood deserves taxpayer support.

Colarossi can deny it all she likes, but there is plenty of evidence of wrongdoing, and the federal investigation into the national organization is far from over. And that five hours of testimony yielded several useful developments, such as Richards’ sometimes-inadvertent confirmation of things pro-lifers have been saying for years—like, for instance, that Planned Parenthood’s past claims to provide mammograms were lies and that their legitimate health services are dwarfed by other providers.

One of the biggest chunks of Planned Parenthood’s budget comes from providing health services, like birth control consultations, STD testing, and cancer screenings, to people enrolled in Medicaid. Abortions make up 3 percent of the clinic’s total services and federal funds are prohibited from being used for abortion by law.

And we close with the MVP of pro-abortion lies, the 3-percent figure (which has been debunked by everyone from Live Action to the Washington Post to USA Today to even Slate), flanked by claims that ignore how cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood are in decline and increased taxpayer funding results in the ability to do more abortions.

‘When in doubt, lie’ is the unspoken mantra of the abortion movement. And by all appearances, they’ve got a lot of doubt about the fate of Planned Parenthood and the ‘right to choose.’

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