Leah Hogsten for the Salt Lake Tribune.



What You Need To Know About The Planned Parenthood Protests

There is a movement, dressed up in pink, that has swept the Internet and reignited a national discussion, one that’s come to define America’s political landscape. The fight is over women’s health rights and, particularly, the controversial and false claim that Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses. Gathering under the #PinkOut and #StandWithPP hashtags, an Internet movement has formed that can be seen throughout Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds — especially today. Activists have proclaimed that September 29 is to be known as Pink Out Day, and they’ve organized dozens of protests across the U.S., including a huge one right here in New York. Here’s what you need to know about the protests and national movement:

Politricks and lies won't stop the progress of this nation! Today, NYC is standing up for #PlannedParenthood. #pinkout

A photo posted by Chirlane McCray (@chirlane) on

The Fetal Tissue Controversy

In June, a video was released that has done potentially irreparable damage to Planned Parenthood, and it’s the root of the ongoing controversy. The exposé was released under David Daleiden’s Center for Medical Progress — an aggressively pro-life organization. Planned Parenthood staffers are allegedly exposed in the video as violators of federal laws on fetal tissue research. The initial outrage over the video provided a renewed platform for pro-life advocates, inside and outside of Washington, to push for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which recieved $500 million in federal funding annually. As with most attacks on women by opponents who are overwhelmingly not female, this controversy is riddled with gaps in logic, and contradictions about laws and the operations at Planned Parenthood facilities.

What Planned Parenthood is All About

The most fundamental misconception that guides pro-life protests against the organization is the idea that they only do abortions. I really hate having to cash this reality check right now, but Planned Parenthood is not the Satanic harlot hotspot the GOP wants people to believe it is. The reality is that they provide healthcare services for both men and women, including STD testing and treatment, contraception, cancer screening, and accompanying healthcare, as well as information and programs that educate colleges, schools, prisons and other places on safe sex practices and family planning. Access to safe and legal abortions make up only 3% of the services you can receive there, yet the conservatives pushing for the defunding of Planned Parenthood fail to mention that fact in their attacks — fitting in with their continued insistence on ignoring truths about the organization.

On Tuesdays we wear pink. #PinkOut #StandWithPP

A photo posted by Planned Parenthood (@pppswaction) on

Exposing the Exposé

There are a number of problems found within the Center For Medical Progress’s 30-month investigation and sting operation. To start, the videos released are heavily spliced and edited, cutting out key phrases like “we’re not looking to make money from this, our goal is to keep access available.” When people want to throw around allegations that Planned Parenthood makes a profit by selling body parts from aborted fetuses, they probably shouldn’t cut out dialogue that flat out refutes the claim. In addition, only 1% of facilities had any involvement in fetal tissue donation, and those that did went through the extra precaution of accepting no reimbursement for their costs. Federal law doesn’t even require this precaution.

The reality is that the ongoing fight in Washington isn’t about whether a law was broken — it’s about cutting off access to safe and legal abortion for women. Republican Sen. James Lankford (of Oklahoma) flat out admitted that the “focus is to try to deal with the life issue. Defunding Planned Parenthood is just a sideshow for the real event, which is what are we going to do to protect children.” When we come to the point where an essential organization for healthcare access to low-income communities is threatened by a shutdown, the GOP’s War on Women has reached a point of no return that is damaging for everyone — not just women.

I #StandwithPP to protect women's reproductive health and rights. #PinkOut #DefendNotDefund @plannedparenthood

A photo posted by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (@nygovcuomo) on

The Dangers of a World Without Planned Parenthood

As of today, the defunding of Planned Parenthood does not look like an impending reality, thanks to the shakeup from former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s resignation. Support for the plan to veto any budget that doesn’t include defunding of the organization has faltered, as public outrage has grown over the potential for another government shutdown. Unsurprisingly, Obama has vowed to throw down the veto hammer on any bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, because he seems to be one of the few remaining politicians who care about providing affordable healthcare to the nearly 2.7 million people who rely on it.

One need only look at the Planned Parenthood facilities that have been shut down to see why funding is essential. One story from March tells the tale of rural Scott County in Indiana, which is now home to a particularly vicious outbreak of HIV. The irony here is that the county has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, because the sole provider — a Planned Parenthood —was forced to close its doors. That facility also did not provide abortion services, and was a part of five total facilities that were forced to close across Indiana because of budget restrictions. Texas also became a battleground state for women’s health rights in 2013, when Wendy Davis famously filibustered for eleven hours to attempt to stop the state government from enacting stricter abortion regulations. The filibuster ultimately failed and resulted in the closure of half of Texas’s Planned Parenthood facilities.

As pro-choice and pro-life advocates continue to spar over women’s health and the funding and defunding of Planned Parenthood, online activists have come together to support it. The #StandWithPP tag is exploding with stories from people who have used Planned Parenthood’s services, and Pink Out Day brought protests from the Internet to the streets. With the announcement of a $1 million donation from Lemony Snicket and a number of celebrities tweeting their support, we can only hope that education on the issue will lead to more donations for an organization that has provided 98 years worth of service to millions of Americans.

To help Planned Parenthood, check out their volunteer page here.

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