(AP/Rick Bowmer)

These are the real liars: Forget Planned Parenthood -- it's the anti-choice movement that's rife with corruption

There's no evidence Planned Parenthood did anything wrong. There's plenty about the other side. Let's review facts


Amanda Marcotte
October 13, 2015 6:37PM (UTC)

For months now, Planned Parenthood has been under a barrage of outlandish accusations from conservatives: That they "sell" fetal body parts as some kind of secret money-making scheme and that, so hungry are they for more fetuses to sell that they actually lure women into having abortions they don't want. Several investigations into these accusations, both on the state and federal level, have turned up nothing.  Same story with multiple show trials disguised as congressional hearings, which led to anti-choice fanatic Rep. Jason Chaffetz admitting that they found no evidence of wrongdoing. At this point, Republicans have basically given up the last bit of hope they're going to find a single shred of evidence for their lurid accusations of corruption, as the latest pseudo-hearing was nothing more than a bunch of anti-choicers griping about how they can't believe abortion is still legal.

As it becomes increasingly clear that Planned Parenthood's nose is clean, we're reminded that the same is certainly not true of the anti-choice side. The anti-choice movement is rife with corruption and will defend their "right" to lie and deceive both the public and women seeking medical care, no matter what the cost.

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Last week, California's governor signed a statewide bill requiring crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)---which are anti-choice organizations that use the lure of free pregnancy testing to trap women into a lecture where they're told lies about abortion and birth control in order to discourage the use of both---to put up some signage letting women know what they're getting into.

The requirements are not onerous. CPCs that are not medical facilities or do not employ medical staff, which are the vast majority of CPCs, are required to have a sign that says, "This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services."

All CPCs are required, by law, to inform women of all their options with a sign or a handout that reads, "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”

Nothing about either of these disclosures should ruffle your feathers, if you are a good and honest person who isn't out to trick women into continuing pregnancies they don't want to have. CPCs are still free to tell women they think non-procreative sex is naughty. But as soon as the law was passed, multiple CPCs in the state sued, claiming their freedom of speech is being violated by these mundane disclosures.

The reason CPCs are so scared by a couple of signs stating bald facts is simple: The entire crisis pregnancy center system is built on the premise that it's okay to lie to women in order to trick them into staying, or in some cases into getting, pregnant. Some CPCs will tell women the chance of miscarriage is higher than it actually is, hoping women will take their chances rather than abort. Some lie about how effective contraception is or minimize the chance of getting pregnant if you don't use it, in hopes you'll quit using birth control. Most exaggerate the risks of abortion, or make up risks that aren't real at all, trying to make the whole process seem like it will maim or kill you. (In reality, abortion is incredibly safe, about 14 times safer than childbirth.) NARAL did a study of California CPCs and found that lying was the norm and the most important tool that CPCs use to accomplish their goal of pressuring reluctant women to have babies. For instance, here's a screenshot they obtained from the Los Angeles Pregnancy Services website:laps

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Deceit, all the way down, from exaggerating the chance of miscarriage to trying to trick women into having unprotected sex by minimizing the risk of pregnancy. They have a lot of nerve of claiming they want women to have "as much information as possible" or that they oppose pressuring women. The whole point of a CPC is to keep women from having information in order to pressure them into the decision that anti-choicers want, not what is best for her.

Even the rare CPCs that shy away from telling women overt lies about abortion and breast cancer still work primarily by deceiving women. Most CPCs lure women in by presenting themselves as family planning clinics, looking very much like the kind of place where you can get medical care and possibly an abortion. Even though they rarely offer exams or medical care, much less have doctors or nurses on staff, volunteers will often wear scrubs to make women think they're in a clinic. Their websites will often try to trick women into thinking they provide abortion by having an "about abortion" page, though if you read it closely, you'll often find that the risks are exaggerated---or invented---in order to subtly scare women about the procedure. The idea of CPCs, since their invention, was to get women looking for real medical care, especially abortion, to wander in by accident and then try to manipulate them into having babies.

In light of this, it's easy to see why CPCs are terrified of a simple sign letting women know this isn't a medical clinic. Without that ruse, the whole corrupt practice could collapse.

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Fighting for the right to lie is increasingly becoming a major part of the anti-choice movement's activities. The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-choice organization so in love with deception that it's baked into their pretending-to-be-feminist name, successfully sued to overturn Ohio's law banning lies in political advertisements. The SBA List wanted to run ads falsely accusing Rep. Steve Driehaus of voting for public funding of abortion services. The state's election commission found that their claims were false, but SBA List won a legal challenge on the grounds of free speech, and were allowed to lie about him anyway.

In the end, it's clear that the accusations of corruption at Planned Parenthood, which are lies in and of themselves, are a form of psychological projection from anti-choicers. The anti-choice movement is rotten to its core, willing to use subterfuge not just in the field of politics but against individual women seeking medical care.

 

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Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. Her new book, "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself," is out now. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte

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