The biggest campaign news on reproductive rights this week continued to be Carly Fiorina.
Fiorina Repeated Her Biggest Lie of All
“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” Fiorina said at the second GOP debate.
Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.
Stay up to date with The Fallout, a newsletter from our expert journalists.
This week on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fiorina defended the part of her description that was the least factually defensible.
“That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying—‘We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain’—exists as well,” Fiorina said.
This is categorically untrue. There is no voice, or any other source or quote, saying anything of the kind in the videos created and released by CMP, a front group that has worked closely with Republican legislators.
One conservative media report claimed that Planned Parenthood’s “media allies” are lying, and that the video Fiorina referenced does in fact exist.
The truth is that while there is a CMP video that Fiorina seems to be referring to, she is describing a scene in it that does not exist—namely, the made-up scene in which somebody says a fetus has to be kept alive to harvest its brain.
It’s true that the video contains a stock image of a “kicking” fetus that appears to have a pulse. It also contains a first-person narrative, with no video to back it up, of harvesting a fetal brain. But the rest is fiction. Fiorina’s description makes it sound like someone from CMP captured undercover video of Planned Parenthood doctors dissecting a still-living fetus, and intentionally kept it alive for organ harvesting. The image is as barbaric as it is fictional.
What’s more, the full video of the “kicking” fetus was released this week. It comes from an anti-choice image library, and it’s almost certainly not an abortion, according to medical experts. It was probably filmed illegally, and possibly not even in America or in the past decade.
Either way, it wasn’t taken by CMP, and there’s no evidence that it was taken at a Planned Parenthood facility.
A person could have watched CMP’s misleading video and mistakenly assumed that the footage was taken at Planned Parenthood, so Fiorina could perhaps be forgiven for the first half of her quote. But the same simply cannot be said for the “keep it alive” part of her quote, which has no basis in fact and which Fiorina is repeating as true regardless.
…and Another Lie for Good Measure
As if that weren’t enough, Fiorina seems to have made misleading statements about whether Planned Parenthood has denied allegations of illegal activity.
“Why is it Planned Parenthood cannot and will not deny late-term abortions are being performed for the purposes of obtaining brains and other body parts?” she said Friday at a town hall in South Carolina. “Because it’s happening. It’s happening.”
On Fox News Wednesday, Fiorina said: “Up until this point in time, not only am I not lying, but Planned Parenthood has not, will not, cannot deny that this is happening because it is.”
As it happens, Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest made a similar-sounding claim at a recent House hearing. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly and categorically said that the claims in the CMP videos aren’t true.
Just in case that wasn’t clear, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens sent Fiorina a letter on Friday:
Several times this week, you have claimed that Planned Parenthood has not denied your baseless, outrageous, and totally false claims about “harvesting” body parts of fetuses for sale. Wednesday night, you said that Planned Parenthood “has not, will not, and cannot deny that this is happening, because it is.”
This statement is completely false.
Planned Parenthood has been clear and unequivocal that these claims are untrue. In fact, we have, can, and will continue to say that this is untrue – and have said so to you directly. In letters to you over the past two weeks and in public statements for the last months, we have said that these claims are false, but you continue to say otherwise.
In other news…
Trump Says His Wife Is Into “Women’s Health Issues”
Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been seen more often on the campaign trail than his wife, Melania, and the media has taken notice. Responding to a question about whether his fourth wife would be seen more often, Donald Trump said he thought she “very much” would.
He added: “She’s very much into the whole women’s health issues.”
It’s not clear what Trump meant by that—whether or not Melania supports reproductive rights, and how her interest in the issue might be used to help sway mostly anti-choice Republican voters.
Trump has been criticized by the Republican establishment for having held pro-choice views, and he recently acknowledged that Planned Parenthood has “positive” sides to its work. But it hasn’t seemed to hurt him so far.
Cruz Is Getting Ignored by Republican Leadership
Ted Cruz has made his outspoken, virulent criticism of Planned Parenthood, and of Republican leadership, a central part of his 2016 campaign appeal.
But in the Senate, Burgess Everett reports at Politico, Cruz’s Republican colleagues are getting tired of his game. They denied him several routine procedural chances to rock the boat on a vote to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.
“Republicans have grown tired of Cruz pushing proposals that he knows McConnell and other Republicans will never back, like defunding Planned Parenthood in a spending bill, then criticizing McConnell for not taking up the plan even as he uses the fight to bolster his presidential campaign as Washington’s consummate outsider,” Everett writes.
Rubio: Republican Establishment “Never Even Tried” to Win Planned Parenthood Debate
Marco Rubio told NPR this week that the Republican Party “never even tried” to “make the case to the American people over a sustained period of time” that Planned Parenthood needed to be defunded.
“They didn’t think they could win the public debate, and so they never even tried,” Rubio said. “If [Obama] ultimately vetoes it, if ultimately we don’t have the votes, that’s one thing. But to basically wave the white flag weeks in advance…that is inexplicable.”
Given that Rubio said in the same interview that he didn’t prefer to see the government shut down over the issue, it’s unclear what would have satisfied him.
Both the House and Senate took multiple votes on defunding the organization. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) both oppose Planned Parenthood, but didn’t want to seek a government shutdown precisely because they knew they didn’t have the votes and that Obama would veto it.
Meanwhile, right-wing media skewered Rubio for not showing up to vote against the Senate’s continuing resolution to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.