Scarborough Continues to Whitewash Far-Right Extremism as Media Bias Despite Evidence Media Misses the Story

Scott Swenson

Ken Silverstein and Max Blumenthal document the extremism fueling the rage on the far-right, while conservatives in the mainstream media whitewash it.

In an election year that has even most seasoned political watchers aghast at some of the far-right extremism on display, two articles provide more detail about the kind of extremism that is being stirred by the far-right and largely ignored by the mainstream media. 

Conservative media elites like former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, spin wildly to put the best face on a disastrous election cycle, bemoaning media bias toward Obama and suggesting the media is exaggerating claims that crowds at McCain-Palin rallies are being primed for extremism. There is ample evidence on video of the anger and vitriol. The refusal of mainstream media to cover this story in-depth, as the two articles below do, serves to undermine politics, government and democracy.

While the mainstream media is largely whitewashing the extremism story, other journalists are not.

Ken Silverstein in the November 2008 Harper’s (subscription) has a must read article entitled "Useful Amateurs: How the Smearing of Obama Got Crowd Sourced." Silverstein interviews several of the far-right producers of online video and viral email campaigns that have gotten increasingly hateful and are essentially active disinformation campaigns put forth by extremists that become accepted "fact" by many people. 

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

One of this year’s most widely circulated anti-Obama videos was created by Jason Mitchell, a self-described "Christian supremacist" and twenty-nine-year-old filmmaker in Raleigh, North, Carolina, who operates a company called Illuminati Pictures. Mitchell, who prefers to go by the moniker "Molotov," is the producer and star of Flamethrower, a program on the Florida-based channel Faith TV that provides "cutting edge political commentary … from a Christian viewpoint." Mitchell’s views are unconventional, to put it mildly, even within the world of right-wing Christian conservatism. Panelists on the show sit before a wall rack of rifles; one guest is introduced with a still photo of her brandishing a handgun.

 

Silverstein’s article deals significantly with race-baiting politics
in the south, and he interviews Carter Wrenn, a former campaign adviser
to the late Sen. Jesse Helms.

Wrenn worked for Helms when his campaign ran the infamous "White
Hands" ad against Harvey Gannt, the African-American mayor of Charlotte
who ran unsuccessfully against Helms in 1990 …. Wrenn now seems
genuinely apologetic about the ad. "We sat in a room, and everyone in
that room discussed and understood the racial impact … It was
premeditated and intentional … It was the wrong thing to do. We won
an election at the expense of African Americans. I wouldn’t do it
again."

 

Max Blumenthal writing at The Daily Beast follow’s up his earlier article about neo-Nazi organizing with an article today detailing the activities of other far-right groups, including anti-choice extremist Randall Terry of Operation Rescue:

During the 1990’s, Terry’s radical anti-abortion outfit, Operation
Rescue, organized blockades outside women’s health clinics across the
country. These blockades often turned violent, and some of Terry’s
closest cadres resorted to domestic terrorism. Case in point: In 1998,
while cooking dinner for his wife and four children, Barnett Slepian—an
abortion doctor whose home had been the site of protests by Terry and
his followers years before—was shot to death through his kitchen window by James Kopp, a former volunteer at Operation Rescue’s Binghamton, N.Y., office. 

Terry is as avid proponent of Christian Reconstructionism, a radical
ideology that calls for replacing the US Constitution with Biblical
law. “I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you… I
want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good,”
Terry told
his followers in August 1993. He went on: “Our goal is a Christian
nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this
country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism."

Arrested over 40 times, including once for mailing an aborted fetus to Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, beleaguered by lawsuits, and reeling from a messy divorce that badly harmed his movement credibility, Terry is seeking a path back to movement prominence.

Terry’s politics might differ from the overtly racist overtures of
Political Cesspool, but he shares similar strategies. Below the media’s
radar, the far, far right is exploiting Barack Obama for political gain.


We know that militant anti-abortion groups are behind the ballot initiative in Colorado, and that many pro-life conservatives are getting anxious about the extremism within their own movement, calling for shift in the debate. Many moderate Republicans are standing up saying they too are concerned about right-wing extremism, but until the mainstream media does what journalists like Silverstein and Blumenthal are doing, truly exposing this extremism for what it is, television personalities like Scaroborough will get away suggesting that any questioning the tactics  of people of faith is off limits, allowing the extremists like "Molotov" Mitchell to continue their radical disinformation campaigns, promoting violence, rage and fear.  

Even John McCain abandoned his famous town-hall format as the crowd rage turned uglier.

Scaroborough should have the courage of Gen. Powell and others to stop spinning, and stand up to the extremism before his whitewashing of it allows it to get out of hand.  If we agree the extremism the former Helms adviser Wrenn admits was wrong has no place in our politics, how can any of the extremism witnessed in this campaign be so cavalierly dismissed with spin by anyone? Especially people of faith.

Investigations Abortion

West Virginia AG Continues Quest for Abortion Restrictions, Despite Lack of Evidence

Sharona Coutts

Given the anticipated push for anti-choice laws in the state’s 2014 legislative session, it’s worth carefully examining Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s claims about the regulation of abortion providers alongside what the evidence says—and doesn’t say—about the safety of abortion services in the Mountain State.

See other pieces from Rewire‘s State of Abortion series here.

Review the database of state documents collected and analyzed by Rewire here.

Of the big political issues this year, the battle over reproductive rights has been one of the most bitter. A long list of conservative state legislatures have introduced or passed laws that are expected to lead to the closure of dozens of abortion clinics. These laws have been passed despite a lack of evidence to support them.

So when West Virginia’s proudly anti-choice attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, announced in June that he was investigating abortion regulation in his state, reproductive rights advocates were alarmed.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“We’re seeing very right-wing fundamentalists attempt to chip away at a woman’s ability to access abortion care,” said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV Free, a nonprofit organization that promotes reproductive rights and justice, and which has helped organize rallies against the investigation. “We know that their end goal is to outlaw all abortion.”

In June, Morrisey wrote to West Virginia’s two abortion clinics and asked for detailed information about the nature and volume of their services. That request stirred memories of what happened in Kansas between 2003 and 2007, when then Attorney General Phill Kline obtained patient records from abortion clinics as part of an anti-choice inquisition. Those confidential records wound up being made public.

Given the anticipated push for anti-choice laws in the state’s 2014 legislative session, it’s worth carefully examining Morrisey’s claims alongside what the evidence says—and doesn’t say—about the safety of abortion services in the Mountain State.

Like anti-choice activists around the country, Morrisey linked his investigation to the trial of rogue abortion provider Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell, who was convicted in May of murdering three babies and killing a patient at his West Philadelphia clinic.

Gosnell’s trial brought to light evidence that Pennsylvania health authorities had failed to oversee abortion clinics in that state. Despite complaints from patients and other abortion providers, no one from the health department inspected Gosnell’s clinic for 17 years. However, evidence from state attorneys general and health departments shows overwhelmingly that Gosnell was a rogue; there is no national pattern of similar crimes.

Nevertheless, referring to the failures of Pennsylvania’s authorities, Morrisey claimed that his investigation is necessary to “ensure that patients are safe” in his state.

“Abortion clinics in West Virginia are neither licensed nor regulated by the State,” he said in a statement announcing the inquiry. “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, the State needs to evaluate this basic fact.”

Technically, it is true that West Virginia does not regulate “abortion clinics,” but this does not mean the people who provide abortions in West Virginia are free from professional monitoring.

In fact, like all medical doctors in West Virginia, physicians who provide abortions are subject to the regulation and oversight of the West Virginia Board of Medicine, which sets standards for how medical procedures must be performed.

“Anyone who believes that a physician has engaged in conduct that would warrant possible disciplinary action with respect to the physician’s license to practice medicine may file a complaint with the Board,” wrote Robert C. Knittle, the medical board’s executive director, in a statement to Rewire.

“The Board investigates complaints of physician misconduct, and initiates disciplinary proceedings when probable cause exists to believe that disqualification or other restrictions upon a licensee are appropriate,” he wrote.

In other words, if a doctor falls short of acceptable standards when performing an abortion, she or he could face disciplinary action from the medical board.

According to the board’s website, as of August this year, it had taken 229 disciplinary proceedings since 2008. Not one of those related to abortion, according to Knittle.

While the doctors who perform abortions in West Virginia are indeed regulated, the state health department does not regulate the facilities where abortions are performed.

West Virginia belongs to a group of states that do not have a special administrative category of health facility called “abortion clinic,” according to a May letter from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. Congress. (Read the West Virginia response as part of Rewire’s State of Abortion series.)

Of course, there are clinics that offer abortions in these states—and they are known colloquially as “abortion clinics”—but there is no official government category of “abortion clinic.”

It’s a question of terminology that results in regulatory differences. For instance, the health department explained in its letter that West Virginia doesn’t require clinics to obtain specific licenses in order to provide abortions, and that there is “no state agency that specifically inspects clinics or facilities that perform abortion.”

As a result, the state health department doesn’t have information on how the two clinics that offer abortions are functioning, or about any other private doctors’ offices offering medical services.

This is what has led Morrisey and others to assert that abortion is unregulated in that state, and to imply that women are at risk of harm due to the lack of regulation.

Indeed, there have been some recent claims that women are frequently injured while receiving abortions at West Virginia’s clinics.

As first reported by the Charleston Gazette, Dr. Byron Calhoun, vice chair of the West Virginia University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, claims that he frequently treats women who have been left with injuries after receiving an abortion.

“We commonly (I personally probably at least weekly) see patients at Women’s and Children’s Hospital with complications from abortions at these centers in Charleston: so much for ‘safe and legal,’” Calhoun wrote in a letter to Attorney General Morrisey. “These patients are told to come to our hospital because the abortion clinic providers do not have hospital privileges to care for their patients, so we must treat them as emergency ‘drop-ins.’”

Calhoun did not reply to Rewire’s email requesting comment for this story, nor did he respond to our request for any evidence to substantiate his claims about treating injured women.

But a spokesperson for West Virginia University Healthcare distanced the institution and the interim dean of the university’s School of Medicine, from Calhoun’s assertions.

“The views expressed by Dr. Calhoun are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the West Virginia University Charleston Division, the WVU Physicians of Charleston, or CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to Rewire. “These entities, which are academically or clinically associated with Dr. Calhoun, have neither approved nor endorsed his views.”

This is not the only time that Calhoun’s official claims have proven to be unfounded. The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses recently threw out another complaint lodged by Calhoun, this time against a midwife who he claimed should have been referred for criminal prosecution in relation to the way she performed her services. In a statement, the midwife’s lawyer said Calhoun had made claims about his client that Calhoun knew, or should have known, were false.

These questions over the reliability of Calhoun’s statements are especially important, given the key role he has played in a high-profile medical malpractice case that was lodged in West Virginia this June.

The suit alleges that Dr. Rodney Lee Stephens, a doctor at one of West Virginia’s two abortion clinics, forced a patient to continue with her procedure after she had asked him to stop. The suit also alleges that Stephens failed to properly anesthetize the patient, Itai Gravely, and that he left parts of the fetus in her uterus. Calhoun provided a key piece of medical evidence, which enabled the case to proceed.

In announcing his inquiry, Attorney General Morrisey cited Gravely’s case as a catalyst for investigating the state’s abortion facilities.

“The merits of that lawsuit must still be resolved in court,” Morrisey said in a press release, “but it does raises [sic] serious questions about how such clinics in West Virginia are inspected and reviewed to ensure patients are safe.”

As has been reported elsewhere, Calhoun has strong and long-standing connections with anti-choice groups.

He is the national medical advisor for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, a Fredericksburg, Virginia, group whose goal is to “achieve an abortion-free America.” The group did not reply to messages seeking comment for this story.

Calhoun—whose specialty is caring for women with high-risk pregnancies, including cases of fetal anomalies—has also testified in support of anti-choice legislation at congressional hearings. In May 2012, he spoke in favor of the District of Columbia “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” a bill that would ban abortions for women who are more than 22 weeks pregnant, except in some cases when the woman’s life is at risk or where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest and the crime was reported to police.

In that testimony, Calhoun said that the risk of mortality from giving birth versus undergoing an abortion is “essentially the same,” despite a 2012 study that shows a woman is 14 times more likely to die during childbirth than as a result of a legal induced abortion.

The doubts raised over Calhoun’s claims to the attorney general, as well as his links to anti-choice groups, have led “pro-life” advocates to question whether the evidence Calhoun provided in the lawsuit can be viewed as objective, and whether his evidence should be relied on when considering new laws that could limit access to reproductive health care.

Many pro-choice advocates agree that regular inspections are a valuable tool in upholding the standards of care to which women and girls are entitled when seeking reproductive health services.

However, when seen in the broader context of this year’s assault by anti-choice legislators on reproductive rights, women’s rights groups say the West Virginia inquiry is a smoke screen for a political and ideological agenda.

“There’s zero evidence to suggest that an over-regulation of women’s health providers is necessary,” said Chapman Pomponio of WV Free.

“If this were about women’s health, we’d be behind it. The fact is this is about rolling back women’s health and rights, and we’ve seen what’s happened in Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio,” she said. “We’re saying the buck stops here.”

Common Ground: What Does the Far Right Get? [Or] Who Wins and Who Loses?

Jodi Jacobson

Current political debates have made "common ground" and "bipartisanship" an end in themselves, at the risk of the health and lives of real people.

This past March, I wrote an article for Rewire entitled Looking for Common Ground on Abortion? You’re Standing on It. In it, I reviewed the evidence on abortion trends in the United States–they have been declining overall—as well as the main factors leading to both unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States.

The abortion rate in any society is a function of what are known as “proximate determinants” or “most direct” factors, and social science evidence from throughout the world underscores that the two most important proximate determinants of abortion are 1) desired number of children and 2) the rate and user-effectiveness of contraception.

If access to and effective use of contraception does not increase as the desired number of children in a society falls, there will be more abortions. Likewise, increased access to contraception will in turn reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. (To be clear, “access” is a function of a number of factors, including the economic and social costs involved in gaining access to contraceptives, and the ability to use contraception without, for example, threat of violence at the hands of an intimate partner.) Many secondary and tertiary factors of course influence the proximate determinants but at the end of the day, these two factors most directly affect unintended pregnancies and by extension abortions.

In the United States, desired family size is quite small and many women want to delay having their first child until well into their twenties. The highest rate of abortions –in the United States and abroad–occurs among those populations of women (or all ages) who want to delay, limit or space the number of children they have but who also have the least secure access to contraception and/or the least ability to control the timing or frequency of sex or the use of contraception.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Bottom line: All the public health data suggests that the most direct route to achieving the outcomes we say we desire, e.g. reducing unintended pregnancies—and by extension the need for abortion—while promoting both reproductive health and rights lies with improving access to and effective use of contraception as a key input. Not the only input, for sure, but the most important at the end of the day for those who are sexually active. This is shown to be a pattern for sexually active people across cultures.
Likewise, if we want to reduce sexually transmitted infections and achieve a range of other public health benefits, we should focus on those strategies proven by the evidence to achieve them,  including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education (which, before the flood of comments starts please note includes but is not limited to abstinence), and access to and use of barrier methods (or dual protection where there is risk of both pregnancy and infection).

In the original article, I suggested we focus on dramatically increased funding for these proven interventions, and also suggested 9 concrete recommendations the Administration could take to use its political mandate to end the bickering over these issues and fulfill the promise made by President Obama to ensure that science and evidence would guide public policy.

In response, one frequent visitor to Rewire, DerekP, wrote a comment under the heading “Not Very Appealing,” stating:

Your idea of common ground for pro-lifers is that they should just give up and become pro-choice (and probably support government funding of abortion). That doesn’t sound very appealing.

This sentiment is echoed by other comments throughout our site and also is inherent in the opposition to increased funding for critical programs like Title X by the institutional Catholic Church, as one example.

And therein lies the dilemma in which we find ourselves in these conversations: What do “I” get? Not what women need, not what couples do and how they act, not about healthy, safe sexual lives, but what do “I/we” as representatives of vested political interests, get out of this. What do the institutional Catholic Church and Evangelical fundamentalist Christians get? What does the “pro-life” politician from a conservative district get? What do ultra conservative Representatives Chris Smith and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen get?

But what DerekP, Jodi Jacobson, Chris Smith and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops “get” is (or should be) irrelevant to the real question: What do people need? What does the evidence say? We have to start with these two concepts to achieve the outcomes we say we desire.  Otherwise we are engaging in a dangerous political contest in which the real lives of real people are at stake. If DerekP and others are interested in reducing the need for abortion, then they should live their own lives the way the feel best for them, but also be able to support the broader investments and interventions shown to result in the outcomes we all claim to seek.

What does the evidence say about how real people act, what women need in regard to primary reproductive and sexual health care, what needs to be in place to ensure women—and men–can exercise their rights? What women “need” is clear not just from what they say, but also as expressed by their actual choices or their patterns of “voting with their feet” so to speak: In the United States, one-third of all women have at least one abortion during their reproductive years, and nearly all women use some form of contraception at some point in their lifetime. Women of all religious persuasions—Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, Islamic–and all cultural backgrounds use contraception and abortion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control: 

Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age: 98 percent of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive method. In 2002, 90 percent had ever had a partner who used the male condom, 82 percent had ever used the oral contraceptive pill, and 56 percent had ever had a partner who used withdrawal.

What women need, therefore is both access to contraception that addresses their changing needs throughout their lifecycle and access to safe abortion services. Ensuring universal access to contraception and to comprehensive sex ed, for example, will without question reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and ultimately of abortions. If these are the outcomes we seek, then we can’t let ideology drive the inputs.

Given this reality, the political demands of the (male) US Council of Catholic Bishops (among other religious institutions) should not be in the equation. At all. Especially not when even the laity of these institutions does not agree with the ideology in practice. I realize this is a controversial, even “blasphemous” suggestion if you will, but Catholic women clearly are much less squeamish about the issue than the Bishops.

It is true that I am pro-choice—I believe all people have the right to make decisions about sex and reproduction, including lifelong abstinence or consensual sex—and it is also true that I believe the pro-choice community generally represents women’s needs because the movement itself grew out of the advocacy of women and providers and advocates working on behalf of women they serve. But if we are really interested in solving the issues about which we profess to care, and if we are really interested in the health and wellbeing of people, then we should stop thinking about common ground between divergent political positions based on ideology—pro-choice, anti-choice, pro-life, Catholic, Protestant, etc–and start and end with the real needs of real people, letting evidence guide the way.

Because it is so often completely divorced from real evidence and the needs of real people, today’s common ground debate is similar to the constant talk about “bipartisanship.” “Common ground” and “bipartisanship” are political concepts and can be achieved by political entities seeking to serve their own political interests or ideologies while actually undermining public health and human rights.
Affected populations often are not even in the "room" literally or figuratively when the deals are cut.

Concrete example: In May 2003, Congress passed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, a landmark program authorizing $15 billion for efforts to end the global AIDS epidemic around the world, with a priority focus on 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
PEPFAR was hailed as a “victory” for promoters of common ground, bipartisanship, and “common sense compromise.” Advocates for AIDS treatment and care secured billions of dollars destined to increase access to anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) and to care needed by those suffering from AIDS-related illnesses. The Bush Administration put a much-needed “compassionate conservative” gloss on its otherwise bellicose and disastrous foreign policy. And Congress looked good for creating a new humanitarian program with what appeared to be bipartisan support. The mainstream media fell all over itself praising the legislation.

There was only one problem. The “common ground,” “common sense” compromises reached to pass PEPFAR came at the cost of the lives of untold numbers of women and youth. In fact, from the get-go, it was made clear the achievement of a “bipartisan,” “common ground” outcome and a good political photo op was the greatest priority irrespective of the policies contained in the legislation, as long as enough money was in the pot.
In the spring of 2003, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, so “bipartisanship” was a somewhat questionable concept to begin with.

To get buy-in from Republicans on the unprecedented levels of funding sought for AIDS treatment and care, AIDS groups needed the support of conservative evangelical and Catholic leadership. And in exchange for that support, the USCCB and evangelical political leaders led by Rick Warren sought two things: first, they wanted prevention policy to be written in such a way as to ensure it was ideologically compatible with their own religious views, and second they wanted to secure funding for their own prevention programs in the field, despite the fact that their ideological position on such intrinsically important issues as safer sex meant they would be using federal tax dollars for what would in effect be religious purposes, and not to promote public health.

This “common ground bill” resulted in women and youth being pushed off a cliff.  The law contained an earmark requiring that 33 percent of all funding for prevention programs go to abstinence-until-marriage programs, which, as a result of even narrower program guidance, resulted in the allocation of 60 percent of all funds for prevention of sexual transmission going to abstinence-only-until marriage programs in the first several years. This was true despite the fact that the highest rates of new infection were found among women and youth who were already sexually active but did not have access to prevention services, information, and methods, and the fact that a growing number of infections in women were occurring “within marriage” and to women who themselves were faithful to their husbands.

Other policies included were also based on purely ideological considerations, such as those prohibiting organizations receiving US funds from working with organizations representing the human rights of sex workers and prohibiting syringe exchange programs for intravenous drug users.

Over the 5 years following passage of PEPFAR, an overwhelming body of evidence accumulated showing these policies did not work. In fact, as a recent Stanford University study showed, after spending some $20 billion of US taxpayer funds on global AIDS programs, US funding had made no contribution to slowing the spread of HIV in the countries receiving the most funding.

Put another way: untold numbers of women and youth were needlessly infected with HIV during the period of the greatest ever expenditure on a public health problem because our “common ground” solution was to cater to ideology over evidence. So there are now more people living with HIV who were unnecessarily infected as a result of misguided, ideologically-based US policy and the majority of them will never get access to treatment.

In 2008, this grave mistake in policy was repeated when, once again, the US Council of Catholic Bishops and evangelical groups insisted on stripping out changes to these damaging policies in exchange for supporting higher levels of funding in the PEPFAR reauthorization process. Another achievement for “common ground” and “bipartisanship,” and another loss for millions of innocent people at risk of HIV, and the likely waste of billions of taxpayer dollars at a time when we are unable to provide our own citizens with decent health care.

And yet, when I ask why in common ground debates we are not starting first with filling the estimated $300 million gap in Title X funding, for example, or ensuring that we pass the Prevention First Act, or demanding full funding of comprehensive sex education, or fully funding HIV prevention initiatives, I am constantly told the “Catholics” or the “Evangelicals” won’t agree to this.  When I ask why we are not confronting these issues for the sake of people’s health and lives, I am told we don’t have to agree on everything, and when I ask why we don’t push for what we know is right, I am told, "let’s reach common ground first and we can go on and work for our own principles."

Here is a dirty little secret: I heard the exact same arguments during the PEPFAR process and many other policy debates.  But…as is usally the  case, once Congress deals with one piece of legislation on a controversial issue, it is "done."  During the first and second rounds of PEPFAR authorizations, those of us concerned about evidence-based prevention were constantly told "we’ll fix it later," but later never came. 

Later still has not arrived.  Once the bill was passed, the message changed to "PEPFAR?  Huh?  We did that already."  Let’s face it: once the press release is "released" declaring "mission accomplished" on a controversial issue there is little to no impetus for Congresspeople to go back and reopen these debates again.  "Fixing it later," or getting the policy right afterward is more myth than reality in 95 percent of the cases. 

My questions are these: Are we more interested in some so-called common ground solution to claim “victory” for political interests or are we interested in the real victory of better health, reductions in unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and abortions that only evidence-based approaches can bring? 
Are we willing to risk the health and rights of people for an as-yet
unarticulated set of compromises that don’t address real needs?  Can we honestly say that insititutional actors whose ideological opposition to solid evidence should play a greater role in determining the lives and health of people–many of whom do not share the same religious ideology and the majority of which affiliated with the same institution do not adhere to the practices?

I know I will be called "politically naive," but I feel that to give in on the evidence before we have even fought the fight is to repeat mistakes made on PEPFAR, the recent stimulus bill, and any number of other policy issues where we either put our lowest ask on the table first without a fight or caved to conservative political pressure to once again "politicize" a public health issue. 

The only common ground that should matter is the one on which the vast majority of people in need of evidence-based sexual and reproductive health care are now standing.  Otherwise, we are standing on a precipice and the people most at risk have already been thrown off the cliff.