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Those Attacks on Planned Parenthood

2015-09-29

This is an old story but it bears repeating during the current attack on Planned Parenthood by the Republican Congress: the former Kansas Attorney General who filed 107 charges of performing illegal abortions against Planned Parenthood lost his law license over this behavior and other outrages.  The Kansas Supreme Court took away his license indefinitely over 11 charges of misconduct in office as well as unprofessional conduct.   Read this Raw Story report from 2013: http://www.rawstory.com/2013/10/kansas-supreme-court-indefinitely-suspends-license-of-former-attorney-general-who-speciously-prosecuted-planned-parenthood-and-george-tiller/

One of the most egregious (but typical) of the actions Phill Kline was disciplined for: he appeared on Fox News with a radical anti-abortion television news “commentator” whose show was called “Tiller the Baby Killer.”

You’ll recall that Dr George Tiller, one of three doctors in the US who provided rare late-term abortions, was shot to death by an anti-abortion assassin, in 2009, after a first attempt left him with bullet wounds in both arms in 1993.  When Phill Kline, the Kansas attorney general, filed 19 counts of violating the law by using an employee to provide second opinions (required for late-term abortions), Tiller was acquitted on all counts.  This was one of the charges Kline was disciplined for.  The campaign of harassment and murder directed against Dr Tiller was not organized by Phill Kline, but he fed into the insanity of trying to prosecute a doctor for saving the lives of women who had nonviable late-term pregnancies (most with major developmental defects like hydrocephalus that were incompatible with life.)

Another of Kline’s unlawful actions was “speciously” filing 107 charges of illegally performing abortions on underage women; he somehow got his hands on the clinic records of a large number of women who had been treated by PP and picked up these 107 counts by combing through the charts.  This was while he was Johnson County District Attorney (Johnson County is the most populous in Kansas.)  The Court found that he repeatedly lied about how he had gotten access to all those charts.  All of the charges were eventually dismissed but it took until 2012 to clear this up.

It seems that the radical Republicans were so charged up by their success in destroying ACORN, an organization dedicated to registering people to vote, by using doctored videos taken by hidden cameras, that they couldn’t wait to attack Planned Parenthood.  PP is an organization that spends 97% of its time giving Pap smears and breast exams to poor women so that they can take birth control pills and thus avoid the need for abortions.  In fact, when a PP clinic was shut down in one county, it was followed by an epidemic of HIV infections.  PP is primarily a women’s health care provider for poor people, most of whom can’t get reasonable access to doctors even when they have Medicaid.  A small proportion of its business, provided at a minority of its clinics, is providing abortions to women who pay cash for the procedure.  Most of these women were using birth control and/or are financially unable to support another child (most already have children.)

The effort to destroy PP started with the creation of a sham organization that claimed to procure fetal organs for research; this allowed them to schedule meetings with PP administrators and invite them out to dinner.  After secretly recording these meetings, filled with leading questions and wrong assertions by their spies, they selectively edited them and added words to the transcripts to make it appear as if the PP administrators were actively attempting to profit from the sale of fetal organs (“baby parts.”)  Studies made of the videos after they were released showed that they were edited in such a way as to remove any denials by the administrators of the spies’ statements and make it appear that the administrators were agreeing with the outrageous lies told by the spies.  In addition, they provided transcripts which were falsified; correct transcription showed that the administrators did not make the statements that the transcript attributed to them.

The saddest part of this scandal was that a major Republican Party candidate, Carly Fiorina, claimed that she saw things (“a baby with its heart beating and legs kicking”) that weren’t on the videos.  She even claimed that she heard a PP technician say “we have to keep it alive so that we can harvest its brain.” (Does that statement make any sense?  Why would someone say that about an aborted fetus (“baby”)??  As Star Trek fans would say, “He’s dead, Jim.”)    When questioned about these claims, she “doubled down” and repeated her hallucinatory observations.  That’s probably all I’m going to say about Carly Fiorina, despite my urge to mention all the candidates for President; she is so delusional that there is little else to say.

On CNN, a clip was shown of Congressional Republicans questioning an administrator for PP.  The questioner claimed that PP used $22 million of federal dollars for lobbying.  The administrator pointed out that none of that was federal money and all of it came from donations; when PP receives federal money, it is specifically reimbursement for expenses it incurs in providing health care and contraception to poor women.  So Republicans are even attacking PP for lobbying to defend itself and are claiming that PP fraudulently uses the money it gets for health care for other purposes.  This is absurd when we consider the minimal amounts of money that Medicaid pays for medical services, not even enough to fully reimburse a clinic for its expenses.

There is no logic or sense in destroying an organization that primarily provides birth control to poor women because the lack of birth control will lead to more pregnancies, all of them unintended and unwanted, and more abortions.  This is the distorted and misogynistic thinking of radical Republicans.

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