“Abortion survivor” Melissa Ohden.
No desire to watch anti-Planned Parenthood propaganda videos? These activists don’t want you to have a choice in that either.
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It has been almost two months now since the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos meant to bring down Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and overall the political impact has been limited. Although various states have launched investigations into the disposal of fetal remains, none has managed to find conclusive evidence that any rules aren’t being followed. Those states that have chosen to defund the reproductive-health-care provider are now being sued for their efforts. And despite multiple protests throughout the country, no federal level defunding has successfully made it through Congress.
Now, abortion opponents are getting even more creative in their congressional actions. Frustrated that they feel the videos and subsequent debate aren’t getting enough attention, anti-abortion activists challenged Democrats to view the undercover footage first hand—and in person. The Susan B. Anthony List hosted a Capitol Hill showing and invited all of the Democratic congressional staff to the event, a full 2,000 people, in essence goading the left of the aisle to look the scandal in the eyes.
“There are still a lot of people who need to look in the face of this horror and see what’s going on,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told The Hill. “There are a lot of things we don’t want to see, but we certainly have an obligation in the policy world and as members of Congress and staff, to see what the topic is about.”
According to Roll Call, just seven staffers signed in, and only two stayed until the end of the event. Dannenfelser appeared to have been unperturbed by the small crowd, stating, “Horror is hard to look at.”
Taunting abortion-rights supporters is the new volley in this Planned Parenthood battle—one that Bobby Jindal inaugurated when he positioned a movie screen and speakers outside the governor’s mansion in Louisiana and played CMP’s edited videos to counter the pro-Planned Parenthood rally being held at the location. “Planned Parenthood has a right to protest today, but Governor Jindal’s office will ensure that anyone who shows up will have to witness first-hand the offensive actions of the organization they are supporting,” Jindal’s administration wrote in a statement. “We hope the protesters will take a minute to watch them so they’ll have an opportunity to see first-hand our concerns with Planned Parenthood’s practices.”
In some ways, this pressure to make abortion-rights supporters watch the videos whether they want to or not is an inevitable escalation of abortion opponents’ earlier tactics, in which protesters force signs and leaflets with fetal remains upon women going into clinics, or project “victim imagery” on the streets on Jumbotrons at tourist attractions. It’s a ratcheting-up of the idea that if you are not actively working to make abortion illegal, then you must be prepared to face its “reality” wherever you go, and a realization that there is no actual safe space where you can avoid it. Already, thanks to “Face the Truth” tours and similar initiatives, the general public has been forced to accept this potential graphic image onslaught as a part of their daily lives. Now, Congress is getting a taste of that, albeit in a more limited, polite, invitation-extended sort of way.
But making federal leaders and their staff either watch the videos in public or chastise them for their unwillingness to engage is only one form of political trolling. Now, anti-abortion Congress members have a new way to torment Planned Parenthood allies at the Capitol. This week, starting Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee will hold a new hearing entitled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.”
“LifeNews.com has learned that two abortion survivors will headline the House Judiciary Committee meeting and exposes the horrors of the abortion industry from their first-hand experience,” reports LifeNews editor Steven Ertelt. “On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, at 10:30 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing in a series of hearings titled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” The hearings will examine the abortion practices of Planned Parenthood, which has been the subject of an ongoing House Judiciary Committee investigation into the organization’s practices. When the panel meets, they will hear from abortion survivors Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen.”
Of course, neither Ohden nor Jessen were actually subject to abortion procedures that are used at Planned Parenthood facilities today. According to Ohden’s story, her birth mother underwent a saline abortion—a process in which a saline solution is injected into the gestational sac in order induce labor—at a hospital in 1977. Jessen, too, survived a saline abortion in 1977, although at least her abortion took place at a Planned Parenthood clinic—albeit nearly four decades ago. In the almost 40 years that has passed since then, saline abortions have completely stopped being performed in this country.
In fact, neither woman’s experience has any bearing whatsoever on what occurs at a Planned Parenthood clinic that performs abortions today, nor on the series of videos that have been released. Instead, however, they are the latest attempt to put a literal face on the fetal remains that the CMP and their supporters have tried to jockey into the public eye, via YouTube, then mainstream news media, then Democratic staff screenings, and now a very pointed congressional hearing.
When it comes to “looking into the face of this horror,” as SBA List’s Dannenfelser put it, those who oppose abortion have come up with a number of “faces” to offer Congress in the last two months. First there was the “face” of the not-quite-12-week gestation fetus in the petri dish of video number four. Then there was the “face” that former StemExpress worker Holly O’Donnell claims she was forced to cut through to procure fetal brain tissue. Now, the face will be the literal faces of those who survived abortion procedures, offering testimony under the guise of speaking on behalf of those fetuses seen in the undercover videos.
However, when these same abortion opponents are faced with the reality that defunding Planned Parenthood won’t stop pregnant people from seeking out other alternatives in order to terminate their pregnancies—even unsafe and illegal ones—they simply close their own eyes and turn away. Facing the truth is apparently just a one-way street.
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