It is not surprising that the Tallahassee Democrat’s recent editorial, titled “In Our Opinion: Manufactured Controversy”, minimized the concerns of those who were offended by the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood.
What is surprising, and should be alarming to all people in our community, is how the editorial writers botched the facts and provided half-truths to support their strong opinion on this highly controversial and emotionally charged issue.
First the botched facts.
In an attempt to minimize the impact of Planned Parenthood’s handling of aborted babies, the article said:
“Only three Planned Parenthood offices, none in Florida, provide fetal tissues, which are taken with the consent of patients.”
The “Only three Planned Parenthood offices…provide fetal tissue” line is designed to tell readers this is no big deal.
But is it true?
My research indicates the statement cannot be supported with any factual evidence.
The WSJ reported here that Planned Parenthood provides fetal tissue in three states, not three offices. The fact is Planned Parenthood does not confirm or deny which three states. However, research indicates that two of the states are California and Texas.
In addition, Politifact reported here that “no one — not from Planned Parenthood, its state affiliates or companies that procure the stem cells — will disclose the states where this happens.”
So how can the Tallahassee Democrat report that only three offices provide fetal tissues? Did Planned Parenthood give information to the Tallahassee Democrat that it would not give to the Wall Street Journal and Politifact?
Beyond this, it appears impossible for the Tallahassee Democrat to know that “Only three Planned Parenthood offices” provide fetal tissue.
Now the half-truths.
Once again, in an attempt to minimize the impact of Planned Parenthood’s handling of aborted babies, the article said:
“Emotions aside, Planned Parenthood does not profit from selling tissue from abortions. That’s against federal law.”
How do the editorial writers know this to be true? Because it is against the law? Is this a serious argument – because it is against the law it does not happen?
And even more troubling is the fact that there exist publicly available evidence that casts doubt on the conclusion put forward by the Tallahassee Democrat editorial.
Consider this: StemExpress, a company that uses aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood facilities for research, developed a brochure that includes an endorsement from a Planned Parenthood official, Dr. Dorothy Furgerson, who was quoted as saying: “Our partnership with StemExpress is beneficial in a number of ways.”
The brochure included several references to the financial benefits for clinics of fetal tissue sales, such as a statement that a partnership with StemExpress “will also be contributing to the fiscal growth of your own clinic.”
This should at least warrant a mention.
And finally, the Tallahassee Democrat editorial informs their readers that in “about 700 health centers, the organization provides basic gynecological services, preventive care, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Less than 10 percent of its work – none funded by the government – involves abortion.”
But this is what they left out of the opinion piece.
Planned Parenthood’s fiscal 2014 report puts the number of abortions the organization performed in 2014 at 327,653. The Guttmacher Institute reports here that in 2011 there were 1.06 million abortions.
Other organizations estimate approximately 950,00 abortions took place 2014. This means Planned Parenthood accounts for 34% of all abortions performed in the United States.
The fact is that less than 10 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work with abortions results in approximately 34% of all abortions performed in the United States.
For the Tallahassee Democrat to take a position that they are not concerned about Planned Parenthood’s actions in the recently released videos is one thing.
But to call this a manufactured crisis and then write an opinion piece to support that characterization based on errors and half-truths is a disservice to our community.