Write As I Say! Part Two

There’s a subterranean current of conservative fury at Donald Trump that’s now breaking into the open. John Kasich’s campaign launch isn’t the only thing that’s been stomped on by Trump’s media dominance: all us godless liberals are supposed to be cowering in fear and shame over the long-planned and heavily curated video footage of scamsters baiting Planned Parenthood personnel into discussions of fetal tissue harvesting and procurement. But instead we’re talking about The Donald, and The Donald isn’t talking about Planned Parenthood, either; he’s too busy insulting other Republican presidential candidates.

Via TPM’s Catherine Thompson we hear Rush Limbaugh, himself a bit soft on Trump, kvetching:

“We’re in a mess here. The Iranian deal’s over here, this Planned Parenthood butchery, and we’re talking Trump all day on CNN,” Limbaugh said on his radio show, according to a transcript. “It’s a way to not cover some of the really horrible things that are happening in this country and replace them with the bashing of Donald Trump, which I think has a subliminal effect of blaming Trump for it.”

You can see this would make antichoichers in particular unhappy. After all, one of their most important gatherings, the Iowa Family Leadership Summit, created to use the abattoir of the Iowa Caucuses to enforce conformity on the Republican Party on “social issues,” was hijacked by perhaps the only candidate at that cattle call who did not ritualistically attack the “butchers” of Planned Parenthood.

But just so we’re clear, Republicans don’t just want the rest of us to talk about the Planned Parenthood videos (two so far)–we’re required to talk about it as evidence the group is making ends meet by selling baby parts generated by illegal abortions. Contesting any word in that phrase is apparently considerered evasive.

Consider this statement from the New York Times editorial board today:

A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.

The nine-minute video clip released by the Center for Medical Progress, an outfit apparently created in 2013, invites viewers to “Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.” In it, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, is seen discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. A second video, released on Tuesday, shows another Planned Parenthood staff member discussing fetal tissue….

The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue. “This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” she said. Under federal law, facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage.

According to a letter sent by Roger Evans, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the video is a result of a yearslong campaign of deception. The head of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, created a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services almost three years ago for the purpose of tricking Planned Parenthood employees, the letter alleges, even setting up exhibits at Planned Parenthood’s national conferences. The letter also says Biomax offered a Planned Parenthood affiliate $1,600 for a fetal liver and thymus, presumably to trap the affiliate in the act of accepting a high payment for fetal tissue. The affiliate declined….

Researchers use fetal tissue to study and develop treatments for diseases and conditions like H.I.V., hepatitis, congenital heart defects, retinal degeneration and Parkinson’s. Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood is certainly not the only collector of fetal tissue — clinics associated with universities also supply tissue for research.

The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women’s health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk.

Is any of that evasive? I tell you what’s evasive: efforts by people who want to ban all abortions, and even the use of IUDs (you know, an “abortifacient”), to pretend the tiny, tiny number of late-term abortions, conducted in rare cases under strict conditions, are what “the abortion industry” and “Planned Parenthood” and Roe v. Wade are all about. And they are furious that we don’t all cooperate with their deceptions.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.