By Doug Porter
Battles over abortion, a key element in the right’s war against women, continue on both coasts this week.
In Washington DC, the House Judiciary Committee opened hearings expressly designed to garner publicity for a coming effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Today’s Washington Post quotes a former top Republican congressional budget aide saying there’s about a 60% chance of a government shutdown over the issue.
This week Care Net, an umbrella organization claiming more than 1,100 faux “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) around the country, is having its 2015 National Conference at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island. A pro-choice group placed ads in the Daily Aztec and Union-Tribune yesterday touting a “tourist guide” filled with the kind of unreliable information they say women receive when visiting Care Net’s crisis pregnancy centers.
A Government Shutdown?
The title for this week’s hearings of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is: “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider”
The GOP leadership on Capitol Hill is hoping these hearings will defuse some of the energy aimed at shutting down the entire government unless funding for Planned Parenthood is eliminated from the federal budget.
More than 30 lawmakers have signed on to a letter from South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney pledging to not vote for any funding measure that appropriates money to the health care organization.
And the roughly 35 members of the House Freedom Caucus are expected to take a similar stand this week, lawmakers have said.
From The Atlantic:
…as has been the norm for Republicans in recent years, a debate over tactics has taken on outsized significance. “Our leadership has probably one chance left to save the party, and it’s on Planned Parenthood,” Mulvaney told me. “And if they don’t, if they put up a show vote, or if they sort of say they’re going to fight but then don’t because they knew that’s what they’re going to do anyway, then the party is done, and Donald Trump will be our nominee, and it will redefine what it means to be a Republican. I don’t know if they get it.”
The Show Trial Begins
History’s two Joes (McCarthy & Stalin), who took the show trial to an art form, are likely in hell bursting with pride over the course of events at the first round of yesterday’s Judiciary Committee hearings.
Sparked by doctored undercover videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profited from illegal sales of fetal tissue, no effort was spared in stacking the deck.
Witnesses? Bah! Evidence? We don’t need no stinking evidence!
From The Nation:
The hearing was engineered to repulse and horrify; it was not designed to reveal any credible information about Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress, the antiabortion group that made and edited the undercover videos. Neither Planned Parenthood nor CMP were asked to make representatives available to testify. Instead, Republicans called on two “abortion survivors” who lived after their mothers attempted to terminate their pregnancies, and issued emotional appeals against abortion, broadly.
They also invited James Bopp, the Indiana lawyer who argued on behalf of the nonprofit Citizens United in the Supreme Court case that extended First Amendment rights to corporations. Among other things, Bopp argued in his testimony that fetal tissue donation encourages women “to choose abortions as an acceptable form of birth control.” Priscilla Smith, who directs the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School, was the only witness who supported abortion rights.
Representative Trent Franks, the Republican chairman of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee, was particularly unhinged in his attacks, appearing to work himself nearly to tears as he described the videos that “irrefutably reveal” Planned Parenthood officials “haggling” over fetal tissue. Later, Franks was pressed on whether he’d actually seen full, unedited footage from CMP. After erroneously claiming that CMP had made it available online, Franks admitted that neither he nor anyone else from the GOP majority had seen the footage in its complete form. He also confirmed that committee Republicans haven’t asked for it.
Activists Push Back with Ad Campaign
A women’s group called UltraViolet announced a national six figure ad buy laying out myths and facts about abortion. A TV ad will air on local news and during popular shows like Colbert and Dancing with the Stars in Austin and Denver, where the original Planned Parenthood attacks started, in Columbus, OH, and nationally online. Online, the ads will be featured on Cosmo and Facebook. Billboards across from faux crisis pregnancy centers have also been purchased.
Here’s the video:
Threatening the Safety Net
Meanwhile, those pesky facts keep rolling in. On Tuesday, an analysis (pdf) conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based reproductive health research organization, in response to a Congressional Budget Office request, described how Planned Parenthood is in many cases the only source of contraceptive care for minority and low-income women across the country.
From Common Dreams:
The study, published at the Health Affairs blog, found that in one-fifth of the 491 counties in which Planned Parenthood sites are located, they are the sole safety-net family planning center. Further, in two-thirds of those counties, Planned Parenthood serves at least half of all women obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers.
These findings debunk the myth, spread by conservative detractors of Planned Parenthood, that the care provided by the group could be easily supplanted by a publicly-funded safety-net centers, such as federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) or county health departments. In fact, the study found that the average Planned Parenthood health center serves “significantly more contraceptive clients each year” than FQHCs, or similar providers.
Further, such community health centers are already chronically underfunded and would be unable to “pick up the slack” if Planned Parenthood’s funding were to be slashed, as health policy expert Sara Rosenbaum recently noted. Such cuts, Rosenbaum added, would have a significant impact on the “millions of poor women” dependent on safety-net care.
A Faux San Diego Tourist Guide for Faux Advocates
This week the annual Care Net conference is happening in San Diego. Care Net is an umbrella organization for anti-choice activist groups who create storefronts posing as women’s health centers.
These storefronts are often called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). In reality, they are nothing more than anti-choice organizations posing as legitimate reproductive health centers, putting their ideological agenda ahead of women’s health and using manipulative tactics to block women from choosing abortion. CPCs often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.
NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) Pro-Choice teamed up with comedian Melinda Taub on local ads featuring a “tourist guide” filled with the kind of unreliable information women receive when visiting Care Net’s crisis pregnancy centers.
The ad begins:
We’re glad you’re here for your conference on running so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ (CPC). Because every second Care Net’s members spend at the conference is a second you’re not:
Building websites that trick pregnant women into visit a CPC instead of a doctor
Lying to your clients that abortion causes breast cancer
Mistaking an IUD for a fetus on an ultrasound
Doing everything you can to deceive, harass, and shame women who come to you for help
We’d like to welcome you to this wonderful city with a tourist guide! Much like you, it is filled with lies.
NARAL Pro-Choice California released the findings from an undercover investigation of CPCs in March of this year. They found that 91% of centers visited falsely linked abortion with breast cancer, infertility, mental health problems, and even death. A Care Net-affiliated center told a NARAL investigator that her IUD showing up on an ultrasound was her “baby.”
The investigation findings are available at www.cpclies.com.
On to other news…
Big Oil Wins Big Time In Sacramento
Yesterday, California lawmakers scrapped a major component of SB 350, giving up on the goal of a 50% reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks by 2030.
Major amounts of lobbying and a targeted ad campaign claiming the bill would dictate what vehicles people could drive led to representatives whose districts are severely impacted by air pollution saying they could not support the bill.
From Think Progress:
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the legislation, said Wednesday that a major lobbying campaign by the oil industry was largely to blame for the doubt that had emerged over the bill.
“The fact that, despite overwhelming scientific opinion and statewide public support, we still weren’t able to overcome the silly-season scare tactics of an outside industry which has repeatedly opposed environmental progress and energy innovation — means that there’s a temporary disconnect in our politics which needs to be overcome,” de León said.
Bi-Partisan Ban the Box Bill
Sen. Cory Booker (D.-N.J.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D.-Md.) have introduced legislation prohibiting federal contractors and federal agencies from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after he or she receives a conditional employment offer.
This bill, unlike most labor legislation introduced in Congress, has bipartisan support. Sen. Ron Johnson (R.-Wisc.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) are among the cosponsors. The legislation comes at a time when similar measures are gaining momentum at the state level. Eighteen states have “banned the box.”
On This Day: 1897 – In Pennsylvania, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovak miners were gunned down by the Lattimer Mine’s sheriff deputies—19 dead, more than 50 wounded—during a peaceful march from Hazelton to Lattimer. The shooters were tried for murder but the jury failed to convict. 1963 – Twenty black students entered public schools in Alabama at the end of a standoff between federal authorities and Alabama governor George C. Wallace. 1996 – WalMartbanned Sheryl Crow’s 2nd album because of the song “Love is A Good Thing.”
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