Carly Fiorina hit a nerve during the CNN GOP debate on September 16th. She cited the Center for Medical Progress sting videos of Planned Parenthood and dared Hillary Clinton and President Obama to watch the them. The deniers and apologists responded, claiming what she described never happened. It did (warning: graphic images in the linked video).
Robert Reich is liberal who I like and listen to even though I don’t often agree with. Reich was Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, he is an author, and an economist. He recently claimed that “The Republican assault on Planned Parenthood is filled with lies and distortions.”
In the Planned Parenthood debate, I agree that there are distortions and I won’t argue that Republicans aren’t capable or guilty of them, but in his post, it was Reich who did a fair amount of distorting. He starts by attacking Fiorina’s statement at the debate:
Wrong. In fact, the anti-abortion group that made that shock video added stock footage of a fully-formed fetus in order to make it seem as if that’s what Planned Parenthood intended.
This is a distortion of what was in the video. There was indeed one still picture of a miscarried baby, Walter Fretz, included in the video, but the child that was show moving its leg had survived an abortion and was left to die in a stainless steal pan. Reich linked to Politifact to support his claim that Fiorina was wrong, but Politifact is not an unbiased fact checking source. And a still of baby Walter was included because he was roughly the same age as the abortion child. To disqualify the entire video because of this single image included for comparison is to miss the forest for a pine needle.
A strong moral case can be made that any society that respects women must respect their right to control their own bodies.
Here Reich begins to mix arguments and confuse issues. The videos are not intended to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood performs abortions, everyone knows that they do. The videos document the fact that Planned Parenthood modify how they do these abortions in order to harvest and sell fetal tissue, often for a profit. This is in direct violation of federal laws. The move in Congress to block funding of Planned Parenthood is not because women can get abortions there. Federal funds may not be used for abortion and there is no proof that Planned Parenthood has violated that law. The move to defund Planned Parenthood is over their illegal harvesting and sale of fetal tissue.
This should have been obvious to anyone who has watched the videos or listened to Fiorina’s statement during the GOP debate.
Despite what Republicans claim, Planned Parenthood doesn’t focus on providing abortions.
Again, a man as obviously intelligent and well-read as Reich should not be making this mistake. No one is surprised that Planned Parenthood does abortions. That isn’t the issue. And all the economic data Reich then cites are nothing more than informational chaff. They are all most likely true and accurate but completely not the issue. What many Republicans have been asking for is to defund Planned Parenthood because of their illegal activities, and many are asking that the funding be sent to numerous community clinics.
Federal money can only be used for abortion in rare circumstances.
You see? Reich knows this and yet he writes as if Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood because federal funds are used for abortions. This one statement on his part renders most of what he’s been arguing moot.
Obviously, the crass economic numbers don’t nearly express the full complexity of the national debate around abortion and family planning.
Here we agree. If we have devolved the discussion to the point where killing unborn children is a good thing because it makes economic sense, we’re in big trouble. If “economic sense” is the criteria for the worth of human life, then a lot of other people who have had the privileged of being born are going to be in the cross hairs. The issue is complex specifically because human life is sacred. God created humans in his image, according to his likeness. This imbues humanity with great dignity and worth, unlike other animal life on earth.
When it comes to abortion we are dealing with two human lives; the mother and the baby. How do we decide which is more important or which gets the priority? Who should our laws protect? The pro-choice voices always default to cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Let’s start there. It would eliminate something like 90% of the abortions in our nation. But don’t forget that in cases of rape and incest there are two innocent lives that the abuser is affecting: the woman and her child. That makes it profoundly difficult to reason through. Just because the unborn child cannot argue his or her case should not mean that he or she automatically loses.
It is indeed complex and Reich did nothing to help clarify it.