Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Facts and Brief Dialogue on the Planned Parenthood Scandal

Recently in the news, we have seen the Center for Medical Progress blow the lid off of the illegal activities going on at Planned Parenthood and how they are profiting off of abortion through the sales of fetal body parts, and in some cases, entire bodies. This hasn't been covered to widely on a national level since the initial video was posted back in July, as it seems to be getting buried under the rug by many liberal and pro-abortion media outlets. However, the ninth video as just been posted this past Tuesday, with more to follow. You can watch the most recent video HERE, and view the full length, unedited interviews here.

Abortion Protesters
Now if you recall, also during the same time all this controversy started, there was another story that made national headlines: Cecil the Lion. Believe it or not, there was more national outrage over the killing of this lion, instead of the illegal activities happening inside a Planned Parenthood clinic involving human beings. Below is a discussion on Facebook that started on a friend's wall; his words will be in blue. He wanted to show how our priorities might be a little backward when a lion gets more coverage than the sale of human body parts. Another person, whose words will be in red, responded defending Planned Parenthood. I and another person (that person's words will be in green, mine in regular black font) gave a rebuttal. Once one sees the research that I presented this person, it's hard to understand how there is still confusion and disinformation being spread on this issue. We'll start from about where I enter the conversation. The only edits below are to each participant's names:

I get that you want abortion illegal, which will in turn make them entirely unsafe for the women that continue to have them. I do disagree with that. I also get that we've seen this song and dance before - it's not like PP isn't a favorite target for those opposed to abortion. But PP MHas probably prevented more abortions than the entire conservative movement has since Roe v Wade. If you oppose abortion on ideological or religious grounds, great - make that argument and lobby for a new amendment that bans it. But don't pretend like you'd be eliminating it and certainly don't hitch your perceived miral superiority to a piece of propaganda that hasn't done anything to even hint at illegal activities occurring at PP - they are allowed by law to do what they do and these carefully edited videos might seem callous and even grotesque but they are not the smoking gun you think they are so the media has rightfully stopped covering it because it's not news or even new. You owe it to your ideology to follow what you believe and stand up for it but to do it honestly and not with propaganda and appeals to emotion.

Can you substantiate your claims, that PP has probably prevented more abortions than the Pro Life movement? Having worked in social concerns and dealt with PP and other Women's Centers around the country, I can tell you that my comments and observations are not dealing with appeals to emotions. The idea that these videos are heavily edited has only been suggested by PP and those that support PP. The pro-life movement is always under scrutiny about being radical and fundamentalist, so if the organization that made the videos is doing something below grade it will only come back to hurt them and the movement they advocate for. 

I have seen one video in its entirety and I do not see evidence of it being edited. That is not to say that it hasn't. Have you seen them? It is against federal law to sell human fetal tissue, notwithstanding any legitimate costs of distribution (the defense of PP), and the one video I have seen clearly shows the PP executive negotiating price and requesting to check with other PP facilities for a fair market value.

Unless you can prove to me that 1) the video was edited and 2) that by altering the video the meaning and conclusions taken away from viewing it are changed, then you need to recant your position. It is definitely a more important story than a lion being shot in Zimbabwe by a hunter. And this, again, illustrates that our media is not objective in its reporting. If I am wrong, I will gladly admit the same to you in fairness. My comments have not been appeals to emotions but social critique based on observation. In fairness, however, this topic is, by nature, emotional, as any issue of human trafficking should be.

First of all, I said probably because something like that will be extremely difficult to quantify as it would be almost entirely dependent on everyone self-reporting. But common sense tells us that they do much to prevent pregnancies and provide MANY other non-abortion services for women that directly relate to the societal abortion rate. Think about it - the main factors involved that would decrease the abortion rate for any given society are fairly obvious ones - increased access to real sex education, and a greater availability of contraceptive and family planning services. PP provides both - in fact it makes up about 85% of their overall business (abortions, on the other hand, count for 3% of their activities). They also provide adoption services. Abortions make up less than cancer screening (16%), and less than STD testing (for both men and women, btw). 75% of their business helps users that fall below 150% of the federal poverty line. PP estimates that they prevent more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies, and 220,000 abortions PER YEAR. How many abortions do think the conservative "ban abortion!" and "abstinence only education!" movements have prevented since Roe v. Wade? The comparison isn't even a real contest - PP has done way more to prevent abortions than either movement can ever hope to.

This is not the first time PP has been targeted by this type of dishonest "journalism". PP is the favorite scapegoat of those who are anti-abortion, but their targets aren't aimed very well if their intention is to actually reduce or eliminate abortions, because abortions aren't their secondary or even tertiary mission (again, 3%!). Every person who comes in there for contraceptive services is one less person that might end up with an unwanted pregnancy. So what do those who purport to represent morals and righteousness do to end the "barbaric" practices of helping women by providing mostly preventative care? They target them with dishonest campaigners posing as real medical suppliers in a vain effort to turn up some smoking gun evidence that PP doctors are making a profit on a statistically insignificant portion of their overall revenue stream, risking their licenses and jailtime in the process. Brilliant.

As far as editing the videos goes, how else do you think they get from a 2.5 hour video (original source) to a 6 minute clip? Never mind the completely dishonest pretense of the "actors" who fraudulently presented themselves as potential tissue buyers. But even within this ruse, the PP representative goes out of her way to repeatedly tell them that profit is not their goal, and (correctly) responds that they are entitled to reasonable reimbursements for their expenses relating to completely legal activities.

Since the burden of proof is on the person making the claim, and you are claiming that they are doing something illegal, where is YOUR proof? Please tell me you're not resting your entire defense on the work of these con-artist "investigators," because IMHO that would be an unfortunate misplacement of your trust.

Like I said, you should hold fast in your beliefs and of course you should do what you can to sway others to your cause, but if you must resort to dishonest campaigns like this one to discredit an organization that isn't even in business primarily to provide the services you utterly detest, then maybe you ought to re-examine your goals and make sure your tactics are at least somewhat ethically in line with them. Reasonable people can (and do) disagree with regards to the legality of abortion in our society, but we owe it to ourselves and our integrity to at least make honest arguments when we do disagree.

The entire videos were released at the same time as the clips. They simply have not been edited to make a point that otherwise wasn't there. Perhaps you'd consider watching the full videos to see for yourself. As for what PP does for poor women- there are countless other organizations that do the same available to women across the country. The only difference is they don't provide abortions as well- and thus aren't multi-million dollar organizations. You're right that people can disagree about abortion (although, there's little evidence that women were dying by the thousands in back alleys as ppl think.

Oh also, I don't like sting operations either. If CMP broke the law they should, and likely will, be prosecuted.

"Don't hitch your perceived [moral] superiority to a piece of propaganda that hasn't done anything to even hint at illegal activities occurring at PP."

This right here is the perfect example of one sticking their heads in the sand. And if anyone thinks one's "moral superiority" hinges squarely on these videos is sorely mistaken; it only confirms the barbarity we knew was already taking place. But let's say that what PP is doing is technically legal, that they actually aren't making a profit... harvesting the organs of human beings and then shipping them across the nation certainly DOES hint at an illegal activity.

I can't say I totally agree with the duplicitous nature of CMP's videos, but facts remain facts no matter how they're obtained. Just because a court of law throws out evidence in a hearing because it was illegally obtained, doesn't mean the facts of that incident didn't happen.

I also can't believe the "3%" figure is still being used when calculating the frequency of abortions at PP clinics. That anyone can buy that and keep a straight face is mind boggling. PP admittedly states that when counting "services", they count EVERYTHNG. That includes handing out condoms, birth control pills, pregnancy tests, etc. To give a procedure like an abortion the same weight to handing out the pill or a IUD only obfuscates the truth. The percentage of PP clients who received an abortion is actually more like 1 in 10 than "3%", which you can see here:

And if one wants to buy that PP offers mammograms, think again as that was debunked already. PP doesn't provide mammograms for cancer screenings; they only give out referrals to places that actually advertise cancer screenings.

Also, to say that contraception itself reduces the abortion rate, is far from being a quantifiable fact. PP pulls their "620,000 unintended pregnancies stopped each year" factoid out of the air by obfuscating numbers much like it did with their "3%" statistic. In addition, this adds to the entire contraceptive culture... because to say that abortion isn't used as a form of birth control is to deny the reality of the situation. To conceive a child despite using contraception means that that attempt to have sex and not produce a pregnancy has failed. If the attempt fails, then the pregnancy (that is, the child in the womb) represents that failure. This carries over into pregnancy. If one wants to avoid a child while having sex, chances are that person will want to avoid a child when my partner becomes pregnant. How is that solved? An abortion. How many of those abortions did PP stop?

The crux of the matter comes down to if the fetus in the womb is a person. It doesn't take religion or an ideology to come to this conclusion. One doesn't need to be religious to accept the biological fact that a human being's life begins at conception when a new, unrepeatable sequence of DNA has been created when the zygote is formed. So to say the person who advocated successfully for an abortion ban shouldn't "pretend like [they'd] be eliminating it," would be to make an intellectually dishonest statement. I can say I fight to end domestic abuse and rape... but the chances of ending both, even though they are illegal, are slim to none. Does this mean I should stop advocating the end of both?

Nobody is pretending that a federal abortion ban would stop all abortions. But if one believes in the worth of a human life, and that it is immoral and against a person's rights to be murdered, then that act (the destruction of the unborn) should be criminalized as killing any human being is criminalized. To suggest otherwise, as it was above, is a red herring.

 I never intended to have a debate about pro-choice vs. anti-abortion on FB; that would be a lesson in futility. I'm not here to change anyone's mind on the topic other than to point out that PP does in fact do many other things that will ultimately prevent abortions. I even stated that in my reply to (the original poster): "Like I said, you should hold fast in your beliefs and of course you should do what you can to sway others to your cause, but if you must resort to dishonest campaigns like this one to discredit an organization that isn't even in business primarily to provide the services you utterly detest, then maybe you ought to re-examine your goals and make sure your tactics are at least somewhat ethically in line with them. "

No one is suggesting that you or anyone shouldn't speak their mind, or that they shouldn't stop advocating for what they believe is right. I just think that you should do it with honest arguments, not this type of "gotcha" reporting that has become all too common because people (in general) are easily to rabble-rouse and very reluctant to look more deeply into issues before becoming "outraged!!" on places like FB. I have watched the four videos and I do not see PP doing or advocating for anything illegal. And by "edited" I wasn't implying that they deleted or inserted things - but that they released the parts to the public that would (out of context) seem to be the most egregious and therefore the most rabble-rousing.

I am a primary care physician, and the one thing I beg you to consider again is that there are dozens of other organizations across the nation that provide the other services at no cost or sliding scale for women in need. Also, as noted above, all the other services PP provides are now mandated as covered with no out of pocket costs for women with insurance. I know many people who've worked for PP and had nothing to do with abortion- but it's disingenuous to argue that their revenue stream (and they do make a lot of money) comes from anything other than abortion.

I know where to send my patients and I'd be happy to do the research for any woman in need across the country. They do not have to get their preventative services from a place that provides abortions. Also if you truly watched all 8+ hours I fail to see how you can still argue for selective editing. Cheers.

[Speaker in red], I also never intended to have a debate regarding pro-choice/pro-life views; I briefly brought up the argument of when life begins solely to show how one can reach the conclusion that abortion is an objective and moral wrong without appealing to religion, faith, or ideology, as you had mentioned in your previous comments.

Where we truly disagree however, is what services PP does most of the time. [Person in green] brought up a very good point in her last comment; where exactly does the revenue stream of PP come from, and how much is that revenue? [Red], you say that PP doesn't primarily do abortions as part of its services. That is patently false as 40% of all abortions in the United States are through PP, over 50% of PP's yearly revenue comes from abortions performed, 92% of all pregnancy services offered by PP ended in abortions, including a record high of 333,964 abortions for the calendar year of 2011:

Even PP's own people assert its total revenue from abortion services was approximately $164,154,000 a year:

Obviously, to say that abortion services aren't a secondary, or even tertiary mission is a gross misrepresentation of what PP does. If PP is truly stopping 220,000 abortions per year as you cited before, but still carried out 327,653 abortions in 2014 (, then I fail to see how PP is doing a stand up job of reducing abortions... especially after setting a record very recently within the past four years.

You also say that after watching the four videos posted so far, you “do not see PP doing or advocating for anything illegal.” How can that be so? Let’s just take the most recent video for example. In the video, Dr. Ginde says in regards to obtaining fully intact fetuses/babies/what-have-you: “Sometimes, we get- if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then they are intact, but that’s not what we go for.” Under US Code (1 USC 8), a human being or child “shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.”

So we see that these “intact” human beings (I say human beings as US law defines such as human beings) that Dr. Ginde is talking about are being delivered in PP facilities. Under the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Act (18 USC 1531), “Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.”

Therefore, we see that PP is certainly, indeed, for something illegal, if not outright doing something illegal (i.e., partial birth abortions) itself, contrary to what you claim you saw. Since you say that CMP has taken this and the other videos out of context, I’m curious to know in which context partial birth abortions would not be illegal, and thus not egregious.

Now as I said, I don’t fully approve of the methods that CMP has used here. And you’re right; we can make our cases for the immorality of abortion solely on ethical and philosophical points. Whether these videos exist or not has no bearing on proving that. However, the video obtained from CMP can prove (and has proven) to be very relevant to those against abortion, since it shows what is transpiring in the places where abortions take place. Again, this is not a court of law. The video is out there. Revelations have been made. PP is making a profit off of human organs and tissue, or at the VERY least, using legal maneuvers and jargon to obfuscate the illegality of its actions to make those same actions appear legal on the surface.

I think we’re all familiar with MSNBC’s “To Catch a Predator”. This series was very duplicitous, where adults would pose as children and teenagers between the ages of 12-15 to lure sexual deviants to a location where said deviants would soon be arrested. Now if there was no dishonesty going on here, these predators may have never been caught. The same thing has happened here with CMP, as they believe the killing of human beings (as mentioned above by 1 USC 8) is wrong, immoral, and illegal. These people would’ve never been exposed to the public if not for these videos Again, this is not something I would do myself nor fully endorse, however, the fact remains that stopping both murder and the sexual abuse of those under the age of consent are both seen as immoral and wrong by many, many people, and as such, it shouldn’t be too hard to see why some people make the leap to stop such transgressions in the way MSNBC and CMP both did.

One may argue that not all people see abortion as immoral, and to that, I will also say that not all people see sex with a minor between the age of 13-15 is wrong. Many African countries have an age of consent set at 13. Asian countries like Laos have theirs set at the age of 15. We see here that social and ethical norms change from culture to culture, which begs the question of if there is an objective morality in the universe… however, that is for another discussion. But in saying that, I hope that illustrates my point that CMP is no different from MSNBC in that both were trying to expose what they believed (again, not everyone believes in the immorality of these two scenarios) to be immoral and illegal activity in the best, albeit extreme, way they saw fit.

So if clear evidence, and I mean so clear it can no longer be denied or shoved under the rug as it has been the past few weeks, does come out from these tapes that PP was doing something illegal, it only gives credence to the claims that pro-life people make on the immorality of abortion by putting a face, name, and voice to it. There is no need to distance oneself at this time from these videos if one is pro-life since there is no evidence that CMP has done any editing to alter the truths and facts being presented in these videos, especially concerning the “intact” (as Dr. Ginde put it) partial-birth abortions.

St. Joseph and the Child Jesus
As an addendum to this discussion, I copied and pasted most of my replies here to another conversation on Facebook where Planed Parenthood was defended. Below was what I said after I was told my interpretation of the data actually supported Planned Parenthood, and was told a very common line heard by those who are pro-choice, "As long it's legal, women should have a safe place to go to perform the procedure. Defunding Planned Parenthood won't stop abortion. Women will just do it elsewhere." My reply:

If you want to stick to what an individual service is as PP does, in that handing out a condom, an oral contraceptive, or an STD test, etc., then sure, it does line up with the figures you posted originally. But the statistic as you and PP interpret it is meaningless, as a woman who came into get an abortion, but also wanted to get an STD test to be on the safe side of things, and then was given oral contraceptives on her way home counts as three specific services in the data.

To say all three of those services I just listed have the same degree of magnitude is ludicrous. One (the abortion) is a serious surgery/procedure that necessitates the presence of doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists while one can simply pick up oral contraceptives at the front desk in a fraction of the time. The procedures are not equal at all, in this is where we see a misleading disparity in PP's own statistics.

The point of posting the record numbers of abortions (at least on Planned Parenthood's end) wasn't at all meant to point towards abortions becoming more popular. It's obvious that abortions, nationwide are going down. The point was to illustrate the disparity between PP's abortion services and its other pregnancy services such as prenatal care and adoption services. As stated in the earlier post, for every adoption referral, PP performed 145 abortions. For comparison's sake the network of Title X's community based clinics performed 0 abortions for every adoption referral.

And indeed, one could say abortion could be PP's only source of revenue, which I and many others find extremely appalling. This is why there are cries for PP to stop receiving taxpayer's dollars, when it makes such an obvious revenue stream each year from abortions. Don't think for a second that just because none of these monies, on paper, are going towards abortions that taxpayers shouldn't be outraged as those dollars are paying for utilities and other expenses to keep the clinics running. The money's all going to the same place; if you can't pay for utilities, how can you provide other services? The effort to placate those who are against abortions by saying those dollars won't go towards abortion simply doesn't work.

Going against abortion in general certainly includes PP, who carry out more than a third of the nation's abortions each year. It is possible to have a multi-directional approach; PP is one of those directions.

You are right here though, defunding PP won't stop abortion. However, there is also a definite shortcoming of logic in saying that since "x" will continue to happen, "x" should be legalized/kept legal. Insert something else into that sentence and see how ridiculous it looks:

Since "Sexual assault" will continue to happen, "sexual assault" should be legalized"
Since "robbery" will continue to happen, "robbery" should be legalized.

We aren't going to see any tax-payer funded "assault centers" where malevolent citizens can attack people in a safe and controlled place as opposed to a back-alley. That'd be ludicrous.

The crux of the matter in this case, is if one supports legal abortions, you better be ready to do one of three things:

1. Prove that an abortion doesn't violate the rights of the child in utero.
2. Prove that a violation of the rights of the child in utero is justified.
3. A child in utero has no rights, and is therefore not a human being.

I can't do any of those things, therefore I will not support Planned Parenthood.

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