Yes, I know. We're not supposed to pay attention to Sarah Palin and somehow she'll magically vaporize, leaving nothing but a pair of smart glasses and a Super Big Gulp. The reality is that characters like Palin never disappear, and as long as they're trafficking in horrendous ideas before audiences of millions, they need to be relentlessly watchdogged and marginalized. Such is the case with Sarah Palin, obviously, whose Facebook page enjoys 4.4 million Likes. She also has 1.1 million followers on Twitter. That's a lot.
So when Palin pops off on a Facebook rant against Planned Parenthood, it's important to illustrate why exactly she's so hilariously wrong.
As we've reported here, anti-choice conservatives are aggressively pushing Alex Jones's conspiracy theory about how Planned Parenthood wants to exterminate black people. We're talking about the same faction that's spent decades complaining about "welfare queens," insisting that African-Americans are having too many kids just so they can continue to collect government checks. It's the same faction that's purging blacks from voter registration rolls, while passing Voter ID laws that prevent minorities from casting ballots. For anyone on the far-right, including Palin, to present themselves as being sympathetic to the Black Americans is laughable on its face.
Below are just a few reasons why the following meme, posted by Palin the other day, is transparently awful.
That's more than 120,000 Likes and 70,000 shares as of this writing. If you've been ignoring Sarah Palin, hoping she'll go away, sorry -- it's clearly not working.
First of all, here we go again with Republicans defending the Confederate flag -- a flag that not only universally symbolizes anti-Black racism, but also Jim Crow, slavery, white supremacy and the Klan. Originally, it flew over an army that was mustered for the sole purpose of committing treason against the United States in defense of a barbaric, racist and inhumane cause. It flew over this army as hundreds of thousands of Americans were slaughtered on battlefields from Manassas to Gettysburg to Cold Harbor to Appomattox. And Sarah Palin, along with too many other top-shelf Republicans, expect us to believe that it's a benign symbol of southern pride.
Even the pride angle has racist origins rooted in the Lost Cause mythology: a post-war effort intended to reunite the country by ennobling the southern cause while scapegoating a common enemy (African-Americans). There is nothing redemptive about that flag, and it's telling that Republicans like Palin continue to downplay and defend it. Especially while pretending to be sympathetic to "black babies."
Besides, the meme makes it seem as if Planned Parenthood is engaging in compulsory abortions. I've never been inside a Planned Parenthood, but from what I know about how it operates, pregnant women of all races decide themselves to have a (safe and legal) abortion, so they enter the next nearest facility and consent to having the procedure performed. So, no, Planned Parenthood isn't wantonly going around murdering black babies. Black women, as well as white women, are choosing to have legally authorized abortions for reasons justified by their own consciences, their own morality and their own personal criteria.
The truth is that in 2014, abortion services accounted for just three percent of Planned Parenthood's activities. There are countless other services offered by the organization which Sarah Palin will never tell you about. Specifically, Sarah Palin will never tell you that Planned Parenthood saves lives. Put in her own terms, the Confederate flag has never been responsible for anything resembling the following:
- In 2013 and 2014, Planned Parenthood facilities performed 378,692 pap screenings for cervical cancer.
- During that same time period, it performed 487,029 breast exams.
- Planned Parenthood successfully detected 87,988 cases of early breast cancer.
- 516,000 pregnancies, many potentially ending in abortion, were prevented by Planned Parenthood's contraceptive services.
- 704,079 tests for HIV/AIDS were performed on both women and men.
- 3,727,359 sexually transmitted infection tests were provided for both women and men.
- 169,008 patients were diagnosed with sexually transmitting infections.
Should I go on?
- Overall, 3,577,348 patients were provided with birth control services. That's upwards of 3.5 million potential abortions prevented.
- Planned Parenthood provided 18,684 women with prenatal services, which Republicans refuse to offer in spite of the party's opposition to abortion. (If the GOP was really interested in preventing abortions there are three simple words Republicans could add to the party platform: make pregnancy free. But they'll never, ever do that.)
- 1,128,783 pregnancy tests were performed.
- 34,739 human papillomavirus vaccinations were administered, preventing cervical cancer later in life.
- 32,334 women received colonoscopies to detect colorectal cancer.
- 4,166 vasectomies were performed. Again, preventing countless potential abortions.
- Planned Parenthood's services were a major factor in reducing teen pregnancies to the lowest rate in 20 years.
- Even in the case of the recent video in which a Planned Parenthood doctor described how tissues are legally donated to biomedical research facilities, this process, no matter how the GOP distorts the facts, saves lives.
These are the services that would end if Palin and her myopic, knee-jerk allies in the GOP have their way and Planned Parenthood is permanently shut down.
Case in point: You might've read how red state Indiana is experiencing a massive HIV epidemic -- the largest in its history. The rate of HIV infection is especially high in Scott County and the town of Austin, where the Centers for Disease Control reported that the HIV rate is surging due to intravenous drug use. Since Indiana Republicans shut down Planned Parenthood in 2013, there's nowhere for low income HIV victims in Scott and four other counties to be tested and treated. It turns out that in those counties, Planned Parenthood was the only provider of medical services, and now they're gone. How many Americans will die horrible deaths because of Republicans like Indiana governor Mike Pence who can't see beyond his own zealotry and misguided outrage?
And even if you accept the GOP's flawed morality on abortions, what anti-choice Republicans fail to realize is that Planned Parenthood, more than anything else, helps to prevent abortions in numbers even greater than those it provides. Conversely, has there been a single Republican who's proposed funding for an alternative to Planned Parenthood capable of providing these life-saving, abortion-preventing services? As of today, not a chance in hell. Republicans would rather close the door entirely on the ability for low-income men and women to receive critical medical care, rather than act sensibly and admit that Planned Parenthood is about much more than abortion or black-market organ harvesting (which, again, Planned Parenthood does not participate in) or whatever other nonsense meme they've ginned up this week.
As for Sarah Palin, I hope she keeps going. I hope she continues to embrace that Confederate flag while demonizing an organization that literally saves millions of lives every year. Posterity will surely judge Palin accordingly and unfavorably. Historians of the future will also note how the modern Republican Party ignorantly endorsed several fraudulent videos as a means of destroying a life-saving organization. By the way, given the numbers as well as party demographics, it's fair to assume that a not insignificant number of people who received the various Planned Parenthood services listed above are, themselves, Republicans.