Truth and Meaning: We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Videos recently released by an organization called the Center for Medical Progress purport to reveal Planned Parenthood staff negotiating the illegal sale of fetal remains. Politicians opposed to reproductive justice (including Rep. Gary Glenn) could not jump on the band wagon fast enough. Glenn quickly posted to his public figure Facebook page, “Given the gruesome but unsurprising exposure of Planned Parenthood’s prenatal body parts trafficking, I am grimly all the more gratified to have been among lawmakers who insisted that the 2015-16 state budget not only not appropriate one dime of state taxpayers’ money directly to the nation’s largest abortion provider, but also include policy language expressly prohibiting any state agency from using our state tax dollars to indirectly subsidize its industrial termination of prenatal children’s lives and profiteering from the sale of their body parts.”

There is only one problem with Rep. Glenn’s courageous, righteous indignation — the videos are not true The heavily-edited videos eliminated the actual context of the discussions of fetal tissue donations, from which Planned Parenthood makes no profit, and which require the clear consent of the patient. Medical researchers use fetal tissue to study and develop treatments for life-threatening diseases and conditions like HIV, hepatitis, congenital heart defects, retinal degeneration and Parkinson’s. Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. And Planned Parenthood is joined by many clinics, such as those associated with public universities, that also supply tissue for research.

Anti-abortion groups have long pushed to defund Planned Parenthood, even though no taxpayer money is used to provide abortions. But that hasn’t stopped their efforts to shut down the clinics, which provide important women’s health services like contraception, cancer screening and other tests.

What, then, is the purpose of these misleading and inflammatory videos? The head of the Center for Medical Progress created a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services almost three years ago for the purpose of tricking Planned Parenthood employees, even setting up exhibits at Planned Parenthood’s national conferences. Biomax offered one Planned Parenthood affiliate $1,600 for a fetal liver and thymus, presumably to trap the affiliate in the act of accepting a high payment for fetal tissue. The affiliate declined.

The Center for Medical Progress — which managed to get tax-exempt status in 2013 as a biomedicine charity — appears to have done little beyond producing the undercover videos. And no one should be surprised that one of its three officers is the president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Rep. Glenn, if you have any hope of truly representing the people of the 98th District, then you need to do a better job with your homework. Your endless crusade against women, the poor, gay and transgender people, unions and public school students do not represent the opinions of your constituents. Stop using your position as a bully pulpit to stump for the theocracy you seem determined to create. At the very least, stop making a fool of yourself every time someone who shares your agenda releases dishonest and fabricated “evidence.”