As you have heard, a group called the Center for Medical Progress, has gone into a number of facilities – including Planned Parenthood facilities – shooting undercover videos about buying and selling tissues from aborted fetuses.
The Washington Post’s David Weigel called the practice ” the little-covered and gruesome issue of fetal tissue sales.”
Planned Parenthood gets money from the Federal government to provide health services to women, but those funds cannot be used to fund abortions. The amount Planned Parenthood gets is not pocket change. The current budget calls for $528 million.
The early response from the organization was to send emails to news organizations warning them not to use the undercover videos which Planned Parenthood considers to be illegal. It did not speak to the truth or falsity of the claims but only about the way the evidence was gathered.
It is no surprise that Republicans have been nearly unanimous in their condemnation of the practice. There are amendments pending in the House and Senate to defund Planned Parenthood before the Members go home for their August recess.
What was surprising is Hillary Clinton’s imitation of Ginger Rogers – dancing backwards in high heels – in an effort to put distance between Planned Parenthood and her campaign.
She originally said:
“I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood had been the object of such a concerted attacks for so many years and it’s really an attack against women’s rights to choose.”
In big-time politics, we call that the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” defense.
By Tuesday, though, Clinton thought better of an unfettered defense of Planned Parenthood and said she had watched the video of what appears to be haggling over the price of fetal body parts and said in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader:
“I have seen pictures from them and I obviously find them disturbing.”
Why she thinks that should be “obvious” is not that obvious to me, but it drew some ire from a Planned Parenthood executive, the former president of the organization, who chided Clinton by saying, according to the Washington Post that Clinton “needs to clarify what her [point of view] is, and articulate it strongly and without apology.”
Yeah. Well. Obviously.
Even Bernie Sanders, the Democrat’s Lovable Socialist was mealy mouthed about the whole thing when all he would say was “the tone was terribly wrong.”
That brought a Leroy Jethro Gibbs whack to the back of the head from a woman the Post described as “a feminist columnist,” Katha Pollitt: “As I read it, he doesn’t defend abortion specifically.”
He certainly isn’t obvious in his defense.
There are legitimate research uses for fetal tissue including, according to the New York Times, “the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.” The Times article goes on to say “federal law says they cannot profit from the tissue itself, but the law does not specify how much they can charge for processing and shipping.”
There is something unseemly about fetal tissue being sold like a product on late night TV – shipping and handling extra.
There are some in Congress who are suggesting that the half billion dollars that has been going to Planned Parenthood be sent, instead, for other groups who provide health services to women but do not perform abortions.
I don’t know how – or if – that would work, but if there are enough facilities to be able to provide services to the number of women who need them, then it deserves to be looked into.
The Planned Parenthood videos are not about whether abortions should be legal or illegal; whether they are moral or amoral. The videos are about a level of callousness that is nothing short of shocking.
Defending the group is just about impossible. Democrats running for re-election will have to vote on a vote to withhold funds. Democrats running as challengers will have to answer questions about how they would have voted. Added to the coming vote on disapproving the Iran deal, this is a vote Democrats do not want to have talk about next year.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.