ThinkProgress bashes Idaho pregnancy centers, ends up making Planned Parenthood look bad


It seems abortion advocates will find reasons to complain, even where there are none.

At ThinkProgress, Alex Zielinski attacks Idaho’s health department for—are you sitting down?—publishing a list of facilities in the state where women can receive free ultrasounds. Why is this eeeeevil? Because “every single facility listed is an anti-abortion advocacy center.”

Often called “crisis pregnancy centers” or CPCs, these centers often lack medically-trained staff and are tied to religious organizations. CPCs are known for attracting women seeking an abortion with their promise of a free ultrasound, but then attempt to convince women out of an abortion by using nonscientific “data” and thinly-veiled guilt-tripping.

As readers may recall from my comprehensive defense of CPCs last year, not only is the information they provide perfectly defensible, but Zielinski is attempting to use the fact that not all CPCs are medically trained to let readers infer that neither are these CPCs.

He does quote a state spokeswoman saying Idaho doesn’t have an ultrasound equipment registry, but Americans United for Life contends that CPCs which offer ultrasounds do have the necessary training and credentials to do so, and Project Ultrasound, a nonprofit that raises money to buy ultrasound machines for CPCs, only aids centers that have or are “in the process of attaining the legal certification to offer ultrasound services in their state.” Further, as we covered last year, NARAL hasn’t produced specific examples of CPCs violating these requirements—only innuendo.

Now, Idaho will help CPCs continue to their one-sided mission.

Anti-abortion state lawmakers appeared to applaud the bill specifically for its ability to control women’s decision-making. “This informs the mother that the ‘piece of tissue’ inside her has hands, feet, eyes, looks like a baby and has a heartbeat,” said state Rep. Heather Scott.

“Giving women information” sure is a funny definition of “control.” In fact, doesn’t telling women lies and denying them true information—like steadfastly opposing the option to see an ultrasound before abortion—sound a lot closer to control? Besides, to suggest there’s an obligation to be neutral on embryology vs. embryology denial is like saying health providers should have to pretend centuries-old discredited “cures” like bloodletting and As-Seen-On-TV miracle drugs are just as valid as modern medications and treatments.

The state agency provides other information on abortion alongside this new list on its website, including a link to another state law recognizing “that the medical, emotional and psychological consequences of abortion and childbirth are serious and can be lasting, particularly when the patient is immature.”

Which is all true. As Cassy Fiano covered last year, a July 2013 piece in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences reviewed literature going back almost twenty years. Most found greater mental harm from abortion than from childbirth or miscarriage, some found no difference, and only one found worse consequences from childbirth. (For more studies linking abortion to suicide, depression, substance abuse, and psychiatric illness, see here and here).

But the best part of ThinkProgress’s story comes near the end:

Ultrasound providers can request to be included on this list, but their services must be free. Planned Parenthood clinics were not considered for the list since they don’t offer free ultrasounds.

Wait a minute. So the entire premise of the article is that Idaho is biased for giving women a one-sided list of ultrasound providers —  “the new requirement is actually deeply rooted in the state’s fiercely anti-abortion legislature”—yet Zielinski waits until the end to admit that the only reason it’s one-sided is because Planned Parenthoods that provide ultrasounds charge women for them?

The very same Planned Parenthood that we’re constantly told needs to keep getting our tax dollars because they’re the single most compassionate entity in the country and a godsend not only for women, but particularly for poor women?

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. If not for all the innocent lives snuffed out every year, it would almost be funny.

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