Planned Parenthood

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  • Missouri Legislators Cite Right-Wing Media Myth As They Defund Planned Parenthood

    Anti-Choice Legislators Reject $8.3 Million And Opt To Pay Out Of Pocket To Attack Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On April 19, the Obama administration issued an unprecedented warning to officials in all 50 states that “actions to end Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood may be out of compliance with federal law,” following actions by 24 states against the women’s health provider since July. Missouri lawmakers responded by approving a new budget that rejects millions in federal Medicaid funds for family planning and reproductive health exams -- all in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

    The Missouri budget decision comes amid a larger battle in which anti-choice lawmakers have threatened Mary Kogut -- the president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri -- with jail time for refusing to turn over records of patients who have received abortion care at a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.

    The Associated Press wrote that the approved budget not only “rejected more than $8.3 million in federal Medicaid funding” -- money that was allocated for “family planning, sexually transmitted disease testing and pelvic exams” -- it also “replaced it with money from Missouri’s general revenues … and stipulated that none of it could go to organizations that provide abortions.” In other words, the budget will force Missouri taxpayers to foot the bill for approximately $10.8 million in necessary family planning and reproductive health resources, even though “budget staffers estimated less than $400,000 in Medicaid payments go to Missouri’s 13 Planned Parenthood clinics.”

    Since the release of deceptively edited videos from the discredited group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year, anti-choice legislators have repeated right-wing media misinformation about Planned Parenthood in an ongoing attempt to defund the organization. They have often justified these efforts by falsely claiming that community health clinics can effectively fill the gap left by barring Planned Parenthood from state and federal health care programs, an allegation echoed in Missouri.

    According to the Associated Press, state Sen. Kurt Shaefer, the Republican chair of the legislature’s appropriations committee, commented that “Medicaid patients can still go to county health departments, rural health clinics and federally qualified centers.” He said: "'If someone wants to go to Planned Parenthood, they’re free to do that ... Taxpayers in Missouri just aren’t going to pay for it anymore.'”

    His claim echoes those made by right-wing media that community clinics can completely fulfill the needs served by state health care programs. In reality, there is ample evidence that removing Planned Parenthood from such programs has a detrimental impact. In fact, experts have explained that the idea of community health clinics filling in for Planned Parenthood is “a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do."

    Recent studies show that defunding Planned Parenthood can lead to decreased access to contraception, particular for low-income women. In February, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that when Texas similarly eliminated Planned Parenthood from its family planning program, there were “over 30 percent fewer claims for long-acting and injectable contraceptives among low-income patients using the Women’s Health Program.”

    According to earlier research from the Guttmacher Institute, in 103 U.S. counties, Planned Parenthood is the only "safety-net health center" accessible for women seeking contraceptive services. Guttmacher noted that Planned Parenthood is the only provider of publicly subsidized contraceptive services and typically can see more patients annually for these services than "other types of safety-net providers." Furthermore, access to contraception is critical for “women’s social and economic advancement” and “has a positive impact on their education and workforce participation, as well as on subsequent outcomes reality related to income, family stability, mental health and happiness, and children’s well-being.”

    Contraception is not the only service patients lose access to when states defund Planned Parenthood. For example, in 2011 Indiana cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which left one rural county without an HIV testing center as it experienced growth in HIV infections.

    Sarah Felts, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson in Missouri, told the Associated Press that in spite of the new state budget, their commitment to the community had not changed: “Planned Parenthood will continue accepting new Medicaid patients ‘no matter what.’”


    *Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

  • Three Ways 60 Minutes’ Undercover Investigation Is Nothing Like CMP’s Deceptively Edited, Ideologically Motivated Smear Campaign

    60 Minutes Producer:  “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or Why We’re Someplace” And Were “Prepared To Come Clean If Confronted”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue-- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has consistently cited illegally obtained and entirely unauthenticated documents provided by CMP as evidence.

    This week, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released their report, “Dialing for Dollars,”  an undercover  investigation using hidden camera footage to report on the “relentless pressure on members of Congress to constantly raise money.” Although 60 Minutes conducted their investigation in a highly-transparent way -- releasing an accompanying video report about their methods called “60 Minutes’ Decision To Use A Hidden Camera This Week” -- right-wing media figures have already compared this investigatory journalism to CMP’s deceptive work.

    In a series of tweets, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again” and noted that CBS “not only edited the video, but used B roll for context (like we allow for 100% of non-fetal market stories)":

    Hemingway’s comments were also picked up and tweeted by the anti-choice news site, LifeNews which said “so CBS News can use a hidden camera but pro-life people can’t?”:

    Daleiden also retweeted Hemingway:

    CMP and the right-wing media who carry water for its work have defended CMP’s deceptively edited videos as “investigatory journalism.” Notably, Fox News hosts Steve Doocy and Bill O’Reilly have both compared CMP’s work to that of 60 Minutes. During a January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Doocy argued that “journalists use these [undercover] techniques everyday” and gave the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20.” Similarly, in a March 6 segment from The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly alleged that if Daleiden was indicted for using fraudulent IDs, “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.”

    The form and substance of 60 Minutes’ investigation, however, was radically different than CMP’s ideologically motivated smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. In the supplementary report explaining their methodology and rationale for going undercover, correspondent Norah O’Donnell and 60 Minutes producer Pat Shevlin explained that “the decision to use a hidden camera wasn’t taken lightly” and that they were “scrupulous” about the process.

    There are at least three key ways that 60 Minutes’ use of hidden cameras differs from CMP’s: 60 Minutes did not conceal their identities to gain access, did not identify people on camera without consent, and did not alter their material to fit an ideological goal.

    1. 60 Minutes Producer: “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or ... Give A False Reason For Why You’re There”

    Unlike CMP’s deceptively edited videos -- where Daleiden and his associates intentionally misled clinic staff about their identities and intentions, steps which included creating a fake company and fake identities -- 60 Minutes never portrayed themselves fraudulently or lied about who they were or what they were doing to the people they filmed. In the accompanying 60 Minutes Overtime video report Shevlin said 60 Minutes “can never lie about who we are or why we’re some place” and that if you’re “challenged, you can’t give a false reason for why you’re there.”

    60 Minutes representatives gained access to the congressional call center legally and without misrepresenting themselves. CMP, on the other hand, cannot make such a claim. On January 26 a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden and one of his associates for gaining access to a Planned Parenthood clinic under deceptive pretenses using false identification. Meanwhile, over 13 state investigations have consistently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

    2. 60 Minutes Did Not Identify People Filmed Without Their Consent

    In accordance with the advice from lawyers, 60 Minutes did not release footage with “identifiable faces” to the public.

    In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information. These efforts to identify providers plays into a long history of anti-choice violence against abortion providers.

    In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information including their names. These efforts to identify providers by name plays into a long history of anti-choice groups targeting abortion providers for harassment which has led to doctors who were later murdered or shot by anti-choice activists.

    More recently, the Congressional select panel has issued wide-ranging subpoenas targeting not only abortion providers but also "researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research." Democrats and reproductive rights advocates have warned that by collecting these names "Congress could be putting lives in danger."

    3. 60 Minutes Did Not Alter Their Material To Fit An Ideological Goal

    In the 60 Minutes report, correspondent Norah O’Donnell investigates a congressional representatives being told their “first responsibility” is not to serve their constituents, but instead to “spend around 30 hours a week” in a call center soliciting donations. O’Donnell explained the purpose in seeing these call centers, as that’s how “lawmakers are spending a lot of their time … that they could be in their office on Capitol Hill doing the people’s business.”

    Although CMP has argued their intentions were to bring a matter of public interest to the attention of authorities -- including their claims that laws involving sale of fetal tissue were being broken -- a February 5 decision by federal judge William H. Orrick strongly rebuts this claim. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction barring CMP from releasing further videos utilizing footage of National Abortion Federation (NAF) employees. According to Orrick, this injunction was justified because CMP did not “-- as Daleiden repeatedly asserts -- use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques” to reveal a matter of public interest.

    Instead, Orrick argued that CMP relied on “repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project.” Orrick concluded that because of these deceptive means, the resulting videos were not “pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal conduct.”

    CMP has removed material from their videos that would have disproven their allegations, inserted misleading images into their work, and coached testimony from a supposed witness to criminal activity.

    60 Minutes’ reporting -- and their effort to make clear why it meets common standards of journalistic integrity -- reaffirms the findings of many other journalists and media ethicists who argue that CMP’s work “can be called many things, but ‘journalism’ probably isn’t one of them.”

  • Media Highlight The “Misleading” Evidence Used During Congressional Panel’s Attack On Planned Parenthood

    Second Select Panel Hearing Was Just Like “A Bad House Of Cards Plotline”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives’ second hearing, multiple media outlets heavily criticized the Republican members’ continued lack of objectivity. The select panel was established by Republicans in October 2015 based on discredited allegations against Planned Parenthood from the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Despite claiming to be “impartial,” Republican members during both hearings have relied on CMP’s deceptive work as evidence.

  • Congressional Hearing On Fetal Tissue Again Relies On Discredited Anti-Choice Propaganda As Evidence

    How The Select Investigative Panel Recycled More Of CMP’s Deceptive Work To Attack Planned Parenthood

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On April 20, Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives held its second hearing: “The Pricing of Fetal Tissue.” Republicans in Congress established the panel following baseless allegations from the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) against Planned Parenthood. During the second hearing, the panel again relied on evidence taken directly from CMP’s videos and website to attack abortion providers and fetal tissue research.

  • Washington Post’s Dana Milbank Explains How The GOP Have Discredited Their Own Anti-Planned Parenthood Investigation

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank pointed out Republicans discredited their own investigation into Planned Parenthood after Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) attended an anti-Planned Parenthood protest while leading the congressional investigation into whether the organization illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue, a claim created and pushed by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in deceptively edited videos. Congressional Republicans convened the first hearing of Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives on March 2 to investigate the ethics and morality of using fetal tissue for research. During that hearing the majority GOP panel relied on research and materials stemming from the baseless allegations from Center For Medical Progress. Panel members have also been fed information from the radical anti-abortion group Protest ABQ, a group with a history of harassing abortion providers and has connections to Operation Rescue, another radical anti-abortion group with a history of extreme rhetoric. Rep. Blackburn claimed the videos released by CMP “revealed that something very troubling is going on related to fetal tissues research.” In an April 20 Washington Post op-ed, columnist Dana Milbank highlighted how congressional Republicans undermined their own investigation and the appearance of impartiality after Rep. Blackburn appeared in a protest against Planned Parenthood, “the very entity she is supposed to be investigating. Milbank wrote that whatever “legitimacy” the panel had left, had been “undermined by Blackburn”:

    Marsha Blackburn isn’t one to worry about appearances.

    The Tennessee Republican didn’t make any pretense this week of being impartial with the committee she chairs, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, commonly known as the Planned Parenthood committee.

    On the eve of her panel’s Wednesday’s hearing, Blackburn went over to Georgetown University to participate in a protest against Planned Parenthood, the very entity she is supposed to be investigating. According to the Right to Life organization, she gave a speech at a gathering called “Life-Affirming Alternatives to Planned Parenthood,” part of a series of events in opposition to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards’s speech at Georgetown on Wednesday.

    Then Blackburn showed up at her committee hearing the next morning and proclaimed, “My hope is that both parties can work together.”

    That was probably never going to happen — and it certainly isn’t now that the secret videos that justified the committee’s creation have been discredited as doctored.


    GOP leaders, in naming Blackburn to lead the Planned Parenthood panel, had hopes of defusing the Democrats’ complaint that the probe was another offensive in the Republicans’ “war on women.” That charge has been easier to make with Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential race — and with several House Republicans on Monday making the extraordinary gesture of voting against a ceremonial bill honoring the first woman to be elected to Congress.

    But whatever legitimacy the select panel had left after the videos were discredited has been undermined by Blackburn.


    GOP leaders, in naming Blackburn to lead the Planned Parenthood panel, had hopes of defusing the Democrats’ complaint that the probe was another offensive in the Republicans’ “war on women.” That charge has been easier to make with Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential race — and with several House Republicans on Monday making the extraordinary gesture of voting against a ceremonial bill honoring the first woman to be elected to Congress.

    But whatever legitimacy the select panel had left after the videos were discredited has been undermined by Blackburn.

    Despite a Texas grand jury clearing Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicting 2 CMP employees based on the fraudulent nature of the smear videos, House Republicans moved forward with their special committee to investigate abortion service providers and fetal tissue donations.


  • David Daleiden Is Not A Journalist

    Media Outlets Debunk CMP’s Fraudulent Claim That Its Work Is “Investigative Journalism”

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Despite the indictment by a grand jury and numerous lawsuits over Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden’s attempts to smear Planned Parenthood, right-wing media have claimed that CMP’s deceptively edited videos are “investigative journalism.” Other media outlets have rejected this claim, confirming that CMP’s videos are misleading, fraudulent, and, above all, not journalism.

  • What Media Should Know About The Anti-Choice Group Protest ABQ

    Meet The Group That Has A History Of Targeting Abortion Providers, Has Connections To Violent Anti-Choice Groups, And Is Now Feeding Misinformation To A Congressional Panel 

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following in the footsteps of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Protest ABQ is the latest anti-choice group feeding misinformation to Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Protest ABQ is a radical anti-abortion group with connections to Operation Rescue, an extremist group with a history of ties to anti-choice violence. Here is what the media should know about these groups, their efforts to mobilize violence against abortion providers, and their connections to Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.

  • CBS' Megyn Kelly Profile Omits Her Record Of Misinformation And Race Baiting

    Charlie Rose Has Previously Allowed Kelly To Whitewash Her History Of Right-Wing Chicanery To Claim She's A Straight Newsperson

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    A CBS Sunday Morning profile of Megyn Kelly extolled the Fox News host as an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone," but interviewer Charlie Rose failed to mention Kelly's record of misinformation, fearmongering, and problematic racial rhetoric. CBS' interview follows a series of other laudatory profiles of Kelly -- including a previous interview by Rose -- that have omitted key details of Kelly's problematic journalistic record and conservative advocacy.

    During an April 3 interview of the Fox host on CBS Sunday Morning, host Charlie Rose described Kelly as "a self-described independent with a reputation for asking tough questions to anyone, Democrat and Republican alike." Rose further added, "her legal skills, along with a willingness to take on some of America's big name conservatives, quickly made Kelly a rising star" at Fox News.

    But Kelly's record of rampant misinformation and conservative advocacy from behind the anchor desk was left out of the interview, and the accompanying write-up on CBS' website.

    Kelly has a long history of scandalmongering and promoting her personal views on air, despite previously insisting that she's "not an opinion-maker" or an "issue advocate," but rather, a straight "newsperson." She has frequently hosted an anti-LGBT hate group leader on her show, made flippant comments about racism and police brutality, and promoted conservative falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

    Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality, once suggesting that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney, Texas, police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing."

    CBS Sunday Morning's profile is just the latest in a series of laudatory profiles that describe Kelly as someone who "buck[s] the conservative party line" while often ignoring her history of problematic coverage. Rose's previous interview of Kelly in October allowed her to present herself as "different than O'Reilly and Hannity" because "they are opinion guys" and she, supposedly, is not. Evgenia Peretz lionized Megyn Kelly in a glowing February Vanity Fair profile, calling her a "feminist icon of sorts," and suggesting her "star power" is similar to that of Julia Roberts, but nearly a month later followed up her praise with some of the less laudatory aspects of Kelly's right-wing rhetoric that were left out of the original piece.

    Peretz demonstrated that when positive press praise Kelly's "occasional, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows," -- a fact that even Peretz acknowledged -- albeit buried -- amid her own glowing Kelly profile.

  • New York Times Editorial Board Outlines The Consequences Of States Continuing Attempts To Defund Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times editorial board drew attention to the 23 states that since July have been attempting to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding following a series of "completely bogus" and "deceptively edited" videos released by an anti-choice group whose employees were consequently indicted by a Texas grand jury. The result, the Times editorial board explained, is reduced access to essential health care and "immediate and substantial" harm "on the poorest and most vulnerable women."

    Since July, the anti-choice group Center For Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of highly edited smear videos which they claimed was evidence of Planned Parenthood officials illegally selling fetal tissue and using illegal abortion methods. None of the CMP's claims of illegal activity by Planned Parenthood have borne out: investigations conducted in twelve states and by the U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services found no wrongdoing on the part of the organization. CMP's founder David Daleiden and his associate were indicted by a Houston grand jury in January for tampering with a governmental record in their campaign against Planned Parenthood.

    On March 28, The New York Times editorial board explained that "Since last July, 23 states have tried various ways of cutting money" for Planned Parenthood, and "So far 11 have succeeded," inflicting "substantial and immediate" harm "on the poorest and most vulnerable women." The board noted that the ongoing legislative battles over Planned Parenthood "circle back to the decades-long crusade by conservative lawmakers to end women's access to safe and legal abortion -- and increasingly, to reduce their access to contraception." The result, they explained "is reduced access to essential health care for millions of American women":

    Since last July, 23 states have tried various ways of cutting money for the organization. So far 11 have succeeded, most recently Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed HB 1411, a sweeping anti-abortion bill that, among many destructive provisions, prohibits Medicaid and other public funds from being used to reimburse organizations that work with abortion providers.

    The federal government has warned states that such efforts may be illegal, because federal law entitles Medicaid beneficiaries to receive care from any qualified provider they choose. But that hasn't stopped Republican efforts; similar laws are poised to be enacted in Arizona and Missouri in the coming days.

    The harm inflicted on the poorest and most vulnerable women is substantial and immediate. Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives and other health care services, like cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, to millions of women around the country; for many low-income women it is the only option. Abortions are a tiny fraction of the services Planned Parenthood clinics offer, and public money cannot be used for abortions in almost all cases anyway.

    State lawmakers and governors claim that these health care needs can be easily met by other providers, like community health centers. In reality, many of these "centers" are housed in elementary schools or other facilities that are ill-equipped to handle the large number of patients who previously relied on Planned Parenthood.


    All these fights, of course, circle back to the decades-long crusade by conservative lawmakers to end women's access to safe and legal abortion -- and increasingly, to reduce their access to contraception. On Thursday, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana signed a bill that further limits reproductive services in that state, including a flatly unconstitutional ban on abortions for fetal abnormalities and a provision making doctors legally liable in such cases.

    Congress may not have succeeded in hobbling Planned Parenthood, but as these state attacks gain momentum, the result is reduced access to essential health care for millions of American women.

  • In Planned Parenthood Investigation, Republicans Recycle Anti-Choice Lies As Evidence

    How CMP's Deceptive Campaign Became Submitted Evidence For The Anti-Choice Panel

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On March 2, Congress' Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives held its first hearing on bioethics and the morality of fetal tissue research. Republicans in Congress established the panel following baseless allegations from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that Planned Parenthood was involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. In the first hearing, despite claims of objectivity, the panel relied on evidence taken directly from CMP's website to attack abortion providers and fetal tissue research.