2016 Presidential Election

GOP Just Can’t Believe It: “Operation: Trash Planned Parenthood” Is Backfiring

After three months of the party's outrageous and unrelenting attacks, the women’s health organization is more popular than ever.

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GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is polling at just 23 percent among Republican voters. Congressional approval ratings are at a mere 15 percent.

Planned Parenthood? Well, despite the smear campaign being waged for nearly three full months now, the reproductive health-care provider is as popular as ever. And the Republican party finds that baffling.

NBC polling lists support for Planned Parenthood at 47 percent, a number that has even increased since the Center for Medical Progress released their undercover videos attempting to discredit the organization. Meanwhile 65 percent of those polled by USA Today say that Planned Parenthood should continue to get public funding from the government.

GOP lawmakers simply can’t make sense of the numbers. “Those numbers are news to me,” Iowa Rep. Steven King, a Tea Party Republican, told the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel. “I haven’t paid any attention to the polls. But am I surprised? Yes. That would explain some of the reasons why the leadership is not committing to defund.”

Rep. King may be surprised, but for the rest of the general public, the news makes a lot of sense. While Americans may be squishy on the idea of being for or against abortion itself—and often find that their opinion on abortion is dependent on the situation depending on the situation of the pregnant person seeking it out—when it comes to a concrete situation like defunding Planned Parenthood, opinions are far more set. Unlike abortion, birth control has little societal stigma so people are far more likely to either have a personal story about the provider or know someone close to them who has benefited directly.

What has been most interesting about the increasing support for Planned Parenthood is the fact that it has come in the wake of more and more respondents saying they are aware of the videos that have brought this situation to Congress in the first place. According to Weigel, Bre Payton of The Federalist said the issue is the mainstream media’s refusal to simply present the videos—as well as the anti-abortion activists’ commentary regarding the videos—as undisputed fact.

“When mainstream news organizations do decide to cover the videos, they’ve parroted Planned Parenthood’s talking points and added qualifying statements about the credibility of the videos,” Payton wrote. “They also love to use the phrase ‘highly edited’ when talking about the undercover footage, which suggests to the reader there’s a slight chance the abortion provider deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

The problem is, there is doubt. In many cases, the CMP video releases have been like a game of anti-abortion telephone. First there was the direct undercover footage, edited down into 15-minute releases. Then there were the “web episodes” that edited those already-edited videos into new, re-spliced versions with unsubstantiated testimony from an alleged eyewitness and stock footage inserted from other anti-abortion sources. Then anti-abortion lawmakers told their own versions of what they saw in the footage, and have even created new re-edited videos to try to substantiate those claims.

Unsurprisingly, as vetting occurs, the carefully woven fantasy doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In an effort to bolster the claims of presidential candidate Carly Fiorina that one of the videos shows “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,’” Gregg Cunningham of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform released a full 13-minute-long video of the entire scene from which the fetus squirming in a pan was pulled.

“The video speaks for itself and that’s what’s so powerful about it,” Cunningham told FoxNews.com. “I don’t have to defend it. No one has to take our characterization for granted. Even a layperson can take a look at it and tell what’s going on.”

Cunningham no doubt hopes it is only “laypeople” looking. According to Fox News’ description of the video, “As the video begins, the top of the fetus’s head is exposed. The abortionist then uses two liquids to dilate the cervix, at which point the fetus begins sliding out of the birth canal, nearly falling out until it’s caught by a gloved hand. The abortionist then cuts the umbilical cord as the baby’s head, unable to support its own weight, flops around in the abortionist’s palm.”

The problem? There are no “liquids” you can spray to dilate a cervix, as anyone who has ever been induced to labor can tell you. And even if there were, the cervix is deep inside, and spraying liquid at the vaginal opening would have no effect. As other medical professionals who watched the video noted, the fact that there were hospital baby blankets, monitors, and cord clamping makes it far more likely to have been a premature miscarriage than any induced abortion procedure.

Cunningham told Time magazine that it must have been an abortion, because no medical efforts were made to keep the fetus alive. Doctors who specialize in neo-nates, however, said that trying to keep a 17-week gestation fetus alive is futile. “Nobody would resuscitate a baby at 17 and a half weeks,” said Paul Holtrop, a neonatologist at Beaumont Health System in Michigan. “The future is a certain death.”

Abortion opponents have used fake videos, misleading pictures and erroneous claims to try to bolster their case to defund an organization that for many in the country is synonymous with trusted, accessible care when they had no other medical provider to turn to. Now, the tactic is backfiring, and Planned Parenthood is even gaining popularity. If the GOP is still confused why that is happening, the answer is pretty simple.

Americans, as it turns out, don’t always like a liar.


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