Ignoring Facts and Telling Stories: On Carly Fiorina And The Viral Planned Parenthood Videos

Carly Fiorina’s appearance on Meet The Press has brought forth yet another backlash against funding for Planned Parenthood. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd recalled the story she told during the second Republican presidential debate earlier this month in which she described a scene in one of the “undercover” Planned Parenthood videos. She explained that it involved a a fully-formed fetus lying on the table, with its heart beating and legs kicking, while someone said, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

Todd confronted said Fiorina, saying that none of the videos featured this scene.  But when asked if she was willing to admit that she had in fact exaggerated, Fiorina insisted it did really happen. She also claimed that the taxpayers were paying for it. Todd went on to suggest that Fiorina was ducking the issue and that, “the footage you describe is at best a reenactment.”

Once again, we have to call right-wing conservatives (such as Fiorina) out on their lies. The clinics run by Planned Parenthood do not sell fetuses for profit and their abortions are not government funded.

Planned Parenthood has provided 10.6 million services for 2.7 million clients in 2013, according to a recent report. Here is the breakdown of Planned Parenthood’s services from The Washington Postfacts

Other “women’s health services” includes pregnancy tests and prenatal services, meaning services that a new mother would receive from a health care provider, such as a doctor or midwife during pregnancy. Contraception includes emergency contraception kits, vasectomies and female sterilization procedures. Lastly, “other services” includes adoption referrals and family practices services for men and women.

Altogether, Planned Parenthood claims that abortion accounts for only 3% of their services. However, this includes emergency contraception and conventional abortions. A first trimester abortion can cost up $1,500, while an emergency contraceptive pill costs $45. These services can also include a pregnancy test, which costs about $10. There have been arguments from advocates against Planned Parenthood that 15-37% of its revenue goes towards abortions. However, the math they have used has its limitations and is slightly speculative. For example, it doesn’t include account sliding payment scales for patients or costs covered by insurance. The problem lies in the fact that Planned Parenthood’s “3%” is misleading because it compares abortion services to the rest of the services it provides. The cost of a pregnancy or STD test isn’t comparable to an abortion. If they were very clear about their data, maybe this would kill the argument over preventing funding from reaching Planned Parenthood.

But what cannot be denied is firstly, the Republican’s long worn-out argument that our tax money goes to fund these “murders” is false. It has been said over and over that though Planned Parenthood’s largest sources of revenue is government funding, federal funds cannot be used for abortions. It’s a fact.

Secondly, these controversial videos have proven to be fake. A complete hoax. Women who get an abortion are able, by law, to voluntarily donate the leftover tissue to medical research. By law, the abortion provider is allowed to request a nominal reimbursement of $30-100 in many cases, which covers the cost of saving, packing and shipping the tissue to a research firm. The cost of transport. Just as with any other case of using body parts for medical research. It’s not always a pleasant idea, whether you’re shipping organs, pieces of flesh or fetal tissue. But it’s vital for medical research and hospitals.

Putting aside how much of Planned Parenthood’s revenue goes towards abortions, the point is that Planned Parenthood does a lot more than just abortions. They provide STD tests, PAP tests, birth control, sexual education and much more. Many women rely on these clinics for their health and wellbeing. Shutting Planned Parenthood down may stop abortions or more likely, it will increase the number of dangerous abortions, when women are forced to do them in unregulated places.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, at least be reasonable about your arguments. Don’t weave horror stories where there are none.

Published by

India Rose Kushner

A writer, journalist, poet and feminist.

One thought on “Ignoring Facts and Telling Stories: On Carly Fiorina And The Viral Planned Parenthood Videos”

  1. Yup. Maybe if we could hear more voices from women who have used planned parenthood services– or, I should say, if we listened to women’s voices– things wouldn’t have gone down like this. If you have your own personal story to share, consider doing it on our blog, http://www.wearesisterstories.org, where we focus on women’s stories of strength and resilience.

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