This Thursday, unless federal Judge Sam Sparks intervenes, all Texas women will be forced to go through mandatory ultrasounds and listen to a description of the fetus and the fetal heartbeat before obtaining an abortion. The law is being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, and a ruling from Sparks is expected sometime before Thursday.
A new bevy of state laws will be going into effect on the same day, most of them focused on reducing regulation in the state as much as possible. So just remember, the Texas government believes there needs to be less oversight on products at the Farmer’s Market and whether or not you can catch catfish with your bare hands, but doesn’t think you have the right to decide if you want hear fetal heart tones before ending a pregnancy, even if you were raped or the fetus is not compatible with life.
It’s been an interesting week for reproductive rights news on the 2016 campaign trail. Rewire brings you our first weekly roundup of the good, the bad, and the bizarre statements on reproductive health and justice from the people who want to be your president.
Carly Fiorina is doubling and tripling down on her misleading statements about Planned Parenthood
Carly Fiorina, at the second GOP presidential debate, described what just about every fact-checker said was a completely made-up scene from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos attacking Planned Parenthood.
The CMP videos are deceptively edited and widely discredited, but they still simply don’t contain a scene Fiorina describes in which someone says a fetus has to be kept alive to “harvest its brain.” Fiorina has steadfastly refused to admit, even to Fox News, that she was wrong about this.
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“Rest assured I have seen the images that I talked about last night,” she said on Good Morning America the day after the debate.
A pro-Fiorina ad edited the already-edited CMP videos to attempt to show Fiorina was telling the truth about them. The ad was released by a pro-Fiorina PAC, not her campaign, but it’s in line with the way Fiorina has talked about the issue.
Fiorina dismisses her critics as the “liberal media” talking about “a technicality about a video tape.”
Fiorina is pushing anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” as legitimate women’s health care providers
Fiorina made a campaign stop Thursday at the Carolina Pregnancy Center—an anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center” (CPC) that actively discourages women from having an abortion—to observe an ultrasound appointment.
Like most CPCs, the Carolina Pregnancy Center doesn’t offer comprehensive reproductive health services like contraception, Pap tests, or screening for sexually transmitted infections. It only offers free pregnancy tests and limited ultrasounds, along with adoption referrals, parenting classes, and Bible studies for women who have had abortions or miscarriages.
CPCs have also been known to mislead patients about the services they provide in order to attract pregnant women seeking abortions.
Fiorina suggested that CPCs should be funded instead of Planned Parenthood.
“If it’s about women’s health, then why isn’t the liberal Democrat party willing to say that pregnancy centers like this should also be funded by taxpayers?” Fiorina said.
Joe Biden said abortion is “always wrong”
Biden said in an interview with a Jesuit news outlet that he supports abortion rights and doesn’t want to impose his beliefs on others who feel differently, but that “abortion is always wrong” in Catholic doctrine.
Biden said he believes that life begins at conception, but that he is “not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view.”
Asked whether there is room in the Democratic Party for “people who are pro-life,” Biden replied, “Absolutely, positively.” (One report said the question was about “people who believe abortion should be illegal,” but it’s not clear whether Biden would have interpreted “pro-life” that way.)
A couple of caveats here: Biden hasn’t actually decided whether he’s running for president yet. He was also talking to a Jesuit news outlet, and his comments were surely tailored to please that audience. Still, Biden has some significant poll numbers compared to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, so what he says during campaign season matters.
Reproductive rights activists pushed back against Biden’s remarks, arguing that anti-choice Democrats have set back women’s access to health care, and that saying abortion is “always wrong” contributes to harmful stigma that hurts women and girls.
“Would Biden be able to look me in the eye and tell me that if I’d chosen then to have an abortion rather than risk a recurrence of deadly cancer, rather than risk leaving my two children I love without their mother, that would have been the ‘wrong’ thing to do?” wrote Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon.
Hillary Clinton defended Planned Parenthood, but still doesn’t seem to consider abortion “health care”
Clinton said earlier this summer that the Planned Parenthood videos were “disturbing,” a description that frustrated reproductive rights advocates. But she has been more vocal in defense of the organization lately.
Without naming Fiorina, Clinton called out the “misleading” and “inaccurate” statements about Planned Parenthood at the GOP debate, and questioned why Republicans are only focused on Planned Parenthood if the problem really is just about fetal tissue research. She said that the CMP videos are “misleadingly edited” and “intentionally taken out of context.”
“I defend and I will continue to defend Planned Parenthood,” Clinton said in an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board. “I think what the Republicans are doing is trying to inflame their base against Planned Parenthood, which they have done now for years.”
But Clinton has also been criticized by reproductive rights advocates for stigmatizing abortion and the women who have abortions by saying the procedure should be “safe, legal, and rare.”
Clinton attacked Republicans in that same Iowa interview for their opposition to contraception. But she seemed to marginalize abortion and separate it from “health care,” which she associated with contraception and Planned Parenthood’s other non-abortion services:
The Republicans have made it clear in recent years that they are not only opposed to abortion, which they have been for quite some time—they’re increasingly opposed to family planning and contraception. And this is a direct assault on a woman’s right to choose health care. Forget about abortion, which is something that a limited number of Planned Parenthood facilities perform, with not a penny of federal money. The money they want to cut off…is money that goes to health services. That is why it’s important that we continue to try to educate the public and draw a very clear line in defense of Planned Parenthood.
The right wing attacked Clinton for her comments on later abortion
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Clinton said that she didn’t want to see the government interfering with women who need later abortion care:
JOHN DICKERSON: This week, the Senate is going to vote to impose a federal ban on late-term abortions. Do you support a federal limit on abortion at any stage of pregnancy?
HILLARY CLINTON: This is one of those really painful questions that people raise. And, obviously, it’s really emotional.
I think that the kind of late-term abortions that take place are because of medical necessity. And, therefore, I would hate to see the government interfering with that decision. I think that, again, this gets back to whether you respect a woman’s right to choose or not. And I think that is what this whole argument once again is about.
Right-wing media had a field day, arguing that Clinton supported abortions through the ninth month of pregnancy for any reason.
The Senate bill Dickerson asked about was a 20-week abortion ban, which would have unconstitutionally banned abortion in the second trimester. “Late-term” abortion isn’t a medical term and conversations about it can get confusing, but it typically refers to third-trimester abortions that happen after a fetus is viable.
Many women who seek later abortions face barriers to getting care earlier, and many later abortions are in fact medically necessary. Many devastating medical problems can’t be diagnosed until the 20 week mark. And blanket abortion bans at a certain gestational age usually have poorly written health exceptions, or no health exception at all—which can interfere with a doctor’s best medical judgment.
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders called themselves feminists. Clinton said she was “puzzled” when people say things like, “‘Well, I believe in equal rights, but I’m not a feminist.’” Sanders said, “In terms of women’s rights, you’re looking at somebody who, to the best of my knowledge, has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record.”
See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.
The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a series of videos seeking to defame Planned Parenthood, posted a fourth attack video to its YouTube channel Thursday, hours after a court barred the group from releasing new videos of officials at a company that provides researchers with human tissue.
The organization claims the newest deceptively edited video shows Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, negotiating the sale of fetal tissue.
According to CMP, the video was recorded by operatives posing as representatives from a human biologics company who met with Ginde at the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains headquarters in Denver, Colorado. The edited video shows the CMP operatives discussing Planned Parenthood’s policies concerning fetal tissue donation.
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When the operatives tell Ginde that they want to pay her “top dollar” for fetal tissue and that it could “look like we’re paying you for specimens,” Ginde responds that they are compensating Planned Parenthood for “processing and time.”
Much of the discussion in the video concerns the public perception of fetal tissue procurement, and the final few minutes reintroduces footage incorporated in other videos of Planned Parenthood employees examining the tissue of aborted fetuses.
The video appears to be heavily edited, with sharp jumps in the footage and timestamps appearing in some parts of the video but not in others. At the time of publication, CMP had not yet released the unedited footage.
The release comes hours after a California court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the CMP from releasing a video of three StemExpress officials, which was reportedly taped in a California restaurant in May. A former employee of StemExpress, which provides human tissue, blood, and other specimens to researchers, was prominently featured in a video released Tuesday by the CMP.
A spokesperson for StemExpress said in a statement that the company is “grateful its rights have been vindicated in a court of law.”
David Daleiden, the project leader and public face of CMP, responded in a statement, saying that StemExpress was using “meritless litigation” to cover up an “illegal baby parts trade.”
“The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work,” Daleiden said.
The videos have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from Republicans and anti-choice activists.
Lawmakers have used the videos to justify calling for Congress to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for services unrelated to abortion. State lawmakers in Texas held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the issue, even though Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don’t currently collect fetal tissue for donation in medical research. Lawmakers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis.
“Elected officials need to listen to the public outcry for an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while the 10 state investigations and 3 Congressional committees determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts.” Daleiden said in a statement.
Reproductive rights advocates, however, have called the videos a “smear campaign” and harmful to women seeking abortion care. “To the right, they want to stamp out abortion by stamping out Planned Parenthood. But what they really want is to stamp out our ability to make the most personal, private decisions about our lives. They are using the latest campaign to shut down Planned Parenthood to do just that,” said Wisconsin Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) in an op-ed for the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch.