Conservatives Struggle Sorting Fact From Fiction in Baseless Planned Parenthood Attacks

On this episode of Reality Cast, Meaghan Winter discusses her investigative report on crisis pregnancy centers. Also, host Amanda Marcotte has more on the recent Planned Parenthood attacks.

Related Links

Vox video explainer

Democrats block attempts to defund Planned Parenthood

Elizabeth Warren speaks out

CNN puts David Daleiden on the spot

Operation Rescue’s violent history

Louisiana cuts Medicaid patients off from Planned Parenthood

Rush Limbaugh riding the Planned Parenthood lie hard

Dana Perino thinks abortion is worse than torture

Ah jeez


On this episode of Reality Cast, Meaghan Winter will be on to dive into her investigative report on crisis pregnancy centers. I wish I was done with this Planned Parenthood hoax, but it keeps being a big story. So I’ll have a good news and a bad news segment on this continuing bunch of right wing idiocy.

Sarah Kliff at Vox had an explainer video on this whole fake scandal that I think is really useful to watch. Here’s a small clip.

  • Vox *

You can check out the video in show notes. I hope that they have a follow-up video on the actual scandal here, which is that a bunch of lying charlatans in service of a radical anti-sex agenda have been able to get so much media and legislative attention.


So let’s start with the good news. As I said last week, I don’t think these false accusations that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue are really taking off in the public at large. There was a lot of chatter about it at first, but it hasn’t really moved the needle. People who are hostile to female sexuality bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. People who are feminist and pro-sex quickly debunked the lie. The mushy middle of people who like having sex but are still afraid of women being liberated are all confused about it. So it’s about the same as it always has been, with most people being generally pro-choice but with some of them feeling weird about it. That hasn’t changed meaningfully in any way, and I doubt it really will in any short term way. Getting the country to be less sexist and hateful about female sexuality is going to take decades of work, day in and day out. You don’t upend thousands of years of patriarchy overnight. That sounds like bad news, but there is good news in that, which is that we have a lot of open feminists in Congress and they were able to stop a Senate bill that was meant to defund Planned Parenthood.

  • PPFA 1 *

Mitch McConnell is running around declaring that the organization is “scandal-plagued,” which is the equivalent of kicking someone in the knee and then declaring that they have to be put down now because their bruises are unattractive. No, the organization is not scandal-plagued. They are the victim of false accusations. The real scandal here is that a major political party is playing along with an overt lie that was constructed for no other purpose but to prevent women from getting contraception and affordable health-care services. We know this, because the money that they intended to cut only goes to contraception and stuff like cancer screenings and STI testing. It does not go to abortion, much less fetal tissue donation.

Some people have been critical of Elizabeth Warren, claiming she hasn’t been in front of this issue enough. But the good news is she came out swinging last week.

  • PPFA 2 *

I hate to say this, but you should really watch the whole video, where Warren lays out the long and shameful recent history of conservative attacks on women’s health care, including attacks on insurance coverage of contraception, attempts to force sex trafficking victims to give birth, assaults on federal family planning programs, and the relentless drumbeat of attacks on legal abortion. This kind of full-throated defense of women’s rights is what we need. I am sick of seeing liberals equivocate on this issue. There is no need to do it. Call out this nonsense for what it is, an attack on the right of every American to decide their own private sex and reproductive life for themselves. Make conservatives explain why they think they should get to tell you how and when to have sex. This is not rocket science.

The fact that the organization behind these fake videos, the Center for Medical Progress, tried to trick the media also seems to be backfiring. In the past, conservatives have successfully guilt-tripped mainstream media into not looking at their lies too closely for fear of being called out for bias. But there is a line, and CMP crossed it, by lying and lying and lying and lying so much, and treating journalists like they are stupid. That and by having a bunch of associations with some of the most unsavory people in the anti-choice movement, which is saying a lot. CNN host Alisyn Camerota actually grilled CMP head David Daleiden about the way he lies shamelessly and frequently. First, he claimed, falsely, that Planned Parenthood doesn’t incur any costs that would require reimbursements and therefore the $30 here and there that they get must be getting is big money profit. Camerota was not having it.

  • PPFA 3 *

He kept lying, of course, because he is chronically dishonest and like his buddy Lila Rose can’t open his mouth without lying. But it’s just laughably obvious that his claims are false. The notion that people are getting rich off a very small number of donations for which they get $30 reimbursements is, yeah. First trimester surgical abortions cost around $400 to $600. Second-trimester abortions run over $1,000 to often up to $3,000. And for a nonprofit like Planned Parenthood, those costs are mostly about recouping expenses. The notion that they’re making bank off an extra $30 here and there is beyond laughable. It’s clearly the product of a conspiracy theory-style mind. It’s embarrassing to even debunk this, it’s so silly. Anyway, she kept grilling him, this time about his associations.

  • PPFA 4 *

Nice seeing such a slick liar get a little flustered there, isn’t it? It is a fair characterization, since the last anti-choice murder, of Dr. George Tiller of Kansas, was committed by an active protester with Operation Rescue. Yes, they tried to distance themselves from him, but it’s also a fact that Scott Roeder, the doctor killer, was deep in the Wichita anti-choice extremist community that Operation Rescue has created there. He got Dr. Tiller’s church address from them, most likely, as Operation Rescue publicized it on their website. In addition, the second in command at Operation Rescue is an anti-choice terrorist. She did time in federal prison for attempting to bomb a clinic. Even beyond that, Operation Rescue has a long history of intimidation and other terrorist style tactics, including stalking abortion clinic employees, following them around town and screaming at them at random in public places. It may not be shooting someone in the head, but stalking is a form of violence and a form that Operation Rescue loves promoting.

So, anti-choicers are failing in Congress and finally getting the skeptical attention they deserve in the media. Unfortunately, this whole misinformation campaign has had some successes, which I’ll detail after the interview.




As I noted, while the entire video hoax thing is not working out as anti-choicers hoped, there have been a few anti-choice victories to come from it. The defunding bill didn’t make it out of the Senate, not that President Obama would have done anything but vetoed that nonsense. But Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, desperate to get some attention in a crowded primary for the Republican presidential nominee, went all out.

  • bad 1 *

Anti-choice logic in a nutshell: Because some guy lied about a fetal tissue donation program in California, women in Louisiana have to be cut off from their birth control pills and Pap tests. Of course, as the clinic vandalism suggests, that was the point all along. The fetal tissue thing was just a feint to gross people out and shut off their rational brains, so that Republicans could hammer through a bunch of cuts to women’s health care. This was never about fetal tissue donation, much less selling. If that was the problem, you ban fetal tissue research. You don’t cut women off from their birth control pills.

That is, so far, the biggest political victory, but it was probably coming anyway, as Jindal has been aching to find a way to cut women’s health care to pander to the anti-choice right for a long time now. But while Senate Republicans utterly failed to defund Planned Parenthood through legislative means, right-wing media is milking this nonsense for all its worth.

  • bad 2 *

How can you be angry about an endangered animal being senselessly killed by an egomaniac when the world is so full of women just having sex like it’s their right? Women. Are. Having. Sex. Everyday! And not having their lives derailed by it. Next you’re going to tell me that polar bears drowning from global warming is a worse problem than people enjoying a warm day or that terrorism is a worse problem than someone waking up in the morning, feeling good about herself. How can you be worried about pain and suffering in the world when there’s so much joy out there to snuff out?

I mean, that’s what they’re really worried about. It can’t be the selling of fetal tissue, because that’s not happening. Dana Perino of Fox News was pushing the same nonsense, but it was, if anything, even more offensive.

  • bad 3 *

Yep, she outright claimed that the life of mindless embryos is worth more than full grown human beings, many who died from the torture she is defending. I cannot stand being lectured by people like that about morals, as it’s unclear to me that they have any at all. It’s literally saying that a human life is worth less than that of a protohuman life. Which is to say, this is about pushing the idea that it’s literally worse for women to have bodily autonomy and a right to a private sex life than to take actual people, actual people who have feelings and thoughts and consciousness and are actual people, and to torture them. Sometimes to death.

I don’t even know what to say sometimes.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, women should be slavishly grateful for any male attention edition. Glamour magazine recently published a really, really sexist article of tips to make your man love you, most of which were variations on the idea that you should be quiet, submissive, and act like an unpaid servant. Seriously, one of them was literally to make him a sandwich after sex, as if he was doing you a favor instead of it being, you know, a mutual thing. Glamour took it down after feminists mocked it on Twitter, and Fox News’ anti-feminist lady brigade was furious.

  • divorce *

Actually, divorce rates have gone down dramatically since the ’80s. It’s just kind of sad seeing this pandering on Fox News. Are there really that many men in their audience who confuse having a girlfriend with having a dog? The issue here isn’t doing nice things. It’s about creating a narrative in your relationship where he’s the boss and she should always feel insecure and achingly grateful that a man will deign to let her kiss his feet. It’s demeaning, and women deserve better than that.