Carly Fiorina's despicable Planned Parenthood lies have gotten even worse

The GOP upstart made news with her absurd claims about reproductive health at the last GOP debate. It gets worse

By Heather Digby Parton


Published September 25, 2015 6:30PM (EDT)

  (AP/Mark J. Terrill)
(AP/Mark J. Terrill)

We know that Carly Fiorina blatantly lied to the whole country about her performance as head of Hewlett Packard in the GOP presidential primary debate a couple of weeks ago. Every fact check has proven her recitation of events to be false. This is part of a pattern.

In that same debate when she bizarrely combined an answer about Iran with the Planned Parenthood controversy, she also challenged Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with a straight face, to watch a video showing "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."

This claim was also thoroughly fact checked and proved her to be lying. None of the videos produced by the hoaxters who made the Planned Parenthood videos showed what she described. But instead of apologizing or just quietly dropping the subject, Fiorina's Super-PAC has created an ad featuring some footage like that she described in a bold doubling down on the falsehood:

RH Reality check describes it this way:

A doctored video is being used to defend GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's false statements about a doctored video...

The video, according to a fact-check from Planned Parenthood, splices together five different video and audio sources from [the deceptive anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress]: an interview with a former tissue procurement technician, Holly O'Donnell; a photo of a Pennsylvania woman's stillborn son that was used without permission; a video from a discredited anti-choice archive called the Grantham Collection; audio from a secret video of a doctor in Colorado; and audio from a surreptitiously recorded phone conversation with a man who works at another independent health-care organization in California.

The deceptive ad ends up showing a "fully formed fetus" with "legs kicking" (a stock image), an unrelated and completely out-of-context audio quote about a "heart beating," and a mention of harvesting a brain.

The Grantham Collection is an anti-abortion archive which uses photos of still births or miscarriages, among other things, to deceive people into believing they are viewing aborted fetuses. According to Mother Jones, the group even claimed that a photo of basic medical tongs is an image of the tool used to pull apart the limbs of an aborted fetus.This stuff is so ghoulish you have to wonder what kind of person would spend their time making up such fantasies.

In response to a request for comment on the veracity of the video, Fiorina's campaign didn't take a strictly legal approach and say they have no relationship with the Super PAC and therefore cannot comment on the ad. Her campaign spokeswomen Sarah Isgur Flores replied to an inquiry from Mother Jones via email:

"Carly is a cancer survivor and doesn't need to be lectured on women's health by anyone. Over their long and factually incorrect letter, Planned Parenthood doesn't and can't deny they butchering babies and selling their organs [sic]. This is about the character of our nation."

Actually, Planned Parenthood does and can deny "they butchering babies and selling their organs." It is simply not true.

Dave Weigel at the Washington Post wrote:

Other campaigns have climbed down from similar claims about the videos. Fiorina and her allies have done no such thing. Three days after the debate, CARLY for America -- the PAC that legally has to keep its distance from Fiorina's actual campaign -- put together a video that spliced the candidate's answer with different clips. The viewer, hearing about the controversy but unaware of the original videos, might think that Fiorina nailed it.

That would be the idea. And it's working. Think Progress interviewed some of her fans in South Carolina this week and they absolutely believe that Planned Parenthood is videotaping the butchering of babies to harvest their brains because this wonderful woman told them so.

Cleveland, Ohio resident Carol McDowell, who came to Fiorina’s event while on vacation in Charleston, said Fiorina’s debate performance really “won us over” — pointing to two of her friends. “I loved the Planned Parenthood response that she had. The things being done today — it’s gone way beyond just abortion and it needs to stop.”...

The message resonated with women in South Carolina. “Look, I got my first set of birth control pills from Planned Parenthood a long time ago,” said Lazar, who added that she is actually pro-choice. “I have nothing against them, but they should not be selling baby parts. As a country, we shouldn’t be doing that.”

It's hard to believe anyone running for president believes she could get away with such blatant deceptions but never say Fiorina doesn't have scads of chutzpah. She has refused to admit that she made a mistake and her Super PAC is now trying to cover her original lie with yet another lie. And even pro-choice GOP women are believing her. It's enough to give you a migraine.

All the women quoted in that article said they believed women should have access to birth control and other reproductive health services. But they seem to have convinced themselves that women easily can access it elsewhere. This is not true. There are no alternative clinics for these women to use and you can be sure the Republicans in Congress will never approve any funds to build more. The last we heard, they were shrieking about repealing Obamacare and GOP governors were refusing to even take free money from the federal government to cover their citizens who qualified for Medicaid. These clinics are often the only time women see a health care provider for years.

According to the LA Times, the CBO reports that 650,000 women would lose some or all access to needed health care if Planned Parenthood were defunded, and it would actually increase federal spending by $130 million over 10 years to cover whatever scattershot health coverage these women would find. A fair portion of that would go to covering the medical expenses of children of unplanned pregnancies which is the real purpose of doing this although those nice GOP women in South Carolina don't seem to realize it.

Carly Fiorina is positioning herself as the anti-abortion warrior in this race, even going so far as to support a government shutdown over this issue, which puts her in the Ted Cruz faction. But it's important to remember what the big funders have actually hired her to do in order to understand why she's chosen this particular crusade on which to stake her campaign: Her job is to be the anti-Clinton and neutralize the Democratic advantage with women. They've admitted it. Indeed, she's putting it right up front in her campaign literature:

“On her card, it’s talking about how she’s trying to refute the war on women,” Charleston resident Mary Smith told ThinkProgress, pointing to the brochure Fiorina’s campaign gave to attendees. “She’s definitely trying to help us ladies out.”

Charleston resident Phyllis Lazar agreed, saying that “it would be amazing to have her up against Hillary Clinton because then they couldn’t sit there and use that ‘war on women’ stuff.” The New York Times wrote last month that many Republicans are looking at Fiorina as “the party’s weapon to counter the perception that it is waging a ‘war on women.’”

How exactly she will do that — aside from just being a woman — was less clear to Smith and other women in the audience. When asked to define the “war on women,” Smith said the Democratic Party likes to attack the GOP for trying to take away women’s reproductive rights and access to birth control. “I don’t really see any of that happening,” she said.

You can see how confused these women are. They are Republicans but they also believe in reproductive rights. The only way they can reconcile these two things is to believe the lying Carly Fiorina instead of their own lying eyes. And it's easy to understand why they might do that. It's almost impossible to believe anyone could tell such a dramatic tale with such conviction if it weren't the truth. But that seems to be her special talent.

The sad thing is that those women wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton in any case. All these big money funders are accomplishing with this phony campaign is helping to destroy an organization that has helped millions of people for many decades get affordable health care. And I doubt that most of them care one little bit about that one way or the other. It's just a means to an end for them. It's life changing for the women who will suffer for it.

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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