The Invented Planned Parenthood “Scandal”:

A Right Jab and Left Sucker Punch on a Women’s Right to Abortion

August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

In the form of a whipped-up but utterly non-reality-based "scandal" over three "gotcha" videos being pushed out by anti-abortion forces, a horrific and massive mind-fuck is in process. Anti-abortion forces are using this non-incident to paint the right of a woman to decide whether or not to bear a child as giving rise to "baby killing for profit."

The release of a highly edited, distorted video of parts of an exchange with a representative of Planned Parenthood is based on total bullshit. But it is a real and vicious attack on a woman's right to abortion.

This "expose" should never have been taken seriously by anyone as a legitimate "expose." But in the context of an all-sided and vicious attack on abortion in society today, this fascist madness has been taken up by fascists to call—in the case of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—for the FBI and federal troops to violently shut down abortion providers.

But my main focus in this letter is in addressing how—at least as dangerously—this utterly fake "scandal" has set off a new round of concessions in the realm of morality, law, and policy by pro-choice forces who have a tremendous impact on public opinion, but are constrained in their thinking by the poisonous and utterly absurd assertion that abortion is a necessary evil that, as Hillary Clinton has proclaimed for a long time, should be "safe, legal and rare."

Background to the "Scandal"

My thoughts on the liberal response to this scandal won't make sense without setting the stage and reviewing the situation with abortion rights. That situation has been addressed repeatedly in Revolution and elsewhere at, but is disturbingly not part of the consciousness of far too many people: Over the past decade, and at an accelerating pace, access to abortion has been shut down by laws, court rulings, and fascist intimidation in vast swaths of the United States.

And then let me reiterate the basic reality that is being obscured by all sides in mainstream discourse over abortion: A woman DOES have a right to choose whether or not to bear a child and avail herself of any form of safe birth control including abortion. There's no ifs ands or buts about this. Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Fetuses are not human beings, but women are! There is no "gray area"—anymore than there was a "gray area" over the enslavement of Black people.

Planned Parenthood is the largest national organization that provides access to abortion, among other services for women. It receives funding from sponsors, and some limited government funding for some services, not including abortion. But as such, it is a target of attack for those Dark Ages forces in society who insist that women must be forced to bear children against their will.

These anti-abortion forces sometimes cover their asses with a veneer of "concern for women," but go to any of their rallies, listen to their hateful threats at abortion clinics, read their online rants, and they boil down to invoking the Bible, not to uphold the rights of "babies," but to uphold the subordination of women. In fact, these creatures from the Dark Ages never highlight what their Bible has to say about real living babies, including:

"O Babylon, you devastator,
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall be they who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!"
(Psalm 137)

But for mass consumption, these forces aren't advertising their essential agenda of enslaving women and a "Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it" ideology that celebrates bashing in the heads of actual living babies.

For mass consumption, it's always some other bullshit. In the Planned Parenthood incident, some of these people presented themselves as representatives of a scientific research firm, the Center for Medical Progress. This is a real entity but not a real medical research firm. It was set up to fraudulently go after abortion providers. They met with representatives of Planned Parenthood claiming they needed tissue and cells from aborted fetuses for medical research.

Research on fetal tissue has led to, or is potentially leading to, critical medical breakthroughs in treating hepatitis, rubella, chickenpox, shingles, cancer, blindness, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, HIV, and diabetes! It was extremely restricted under Bush and continues to be far too restricted as a concession to Christian fascists.

The anti-abortionists posing as science researchers secretly recorded the meeting with Planned Parenthood. In that meeting, as a very peripheral part of a long discussion, there was some exchange over compensation for the fetal tissue.

Scandal! Someone somewhere actually might be making money in the process of making fetal tissue available for research! Please. One might ask when did these Christian fascists become opponents of capitalism? But this level of absurd hypocrisy and lies runs through everything they do—starting with portraying themselves as defenders of women and babies.

A Right Jab and a Left Sucker Punch

Significant responses from mainstream liberals, who uphold the right to abortion and defend using fetal tissue for scientific research, have been, in their own way, throwing a left sucker punch in all this.

A concentrated expression of this view, and how it is being forever moved into alignment with the basic paradigm of the anti-abortionists, is reflected (and promoted) in a major op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "The Case for Fetal-Cell Research" (July 30, 2015). The piece is an argument for the use of fetal cells in research, by a fetal cell researcher, Nathalia Holt, who has made contributions to scientific research using fetal cells and is the author of Cured: The People Who Defeated HIV. But Holt's piece portrays the use of fetal tissue in research as a traumatic and angst-filled moral tradeoff.

Holt writes: "It's understandable that politicians, angered by her [the Planned Parenthood participant in the meeting] callous tone, are now investigating how fetal tissue is handled and how research is conducted..."

Well, it is understandable why people, including many of the most prominent Republican candidates for president and many Christian fascists, are calling for this investigation but it has nothing to do with the "tone" of a Planned Parenthood representative in an edited and distorted video.

Come on! These forces have been trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood for decades because they want to force women to bear children against their will and they consider abortion "baby killing." Anyone who has followed the debates in the halls of power over abortion knows that. And should know better than to justify another round of attacks as being provoked in any way by what anyone said in the meeting from which this video was edited.

Holt writes that when a box of fetal cells arrived at the lab, "...uneasiness permeated the lab.... We rationalized using the cells by telling one another that the abortions would happen regardless of whether we used the tissue for research." And then, "Even with our preparations, justifications and the sheer excitement that accompanied our research, the fetal cells brought sadness."

Why? Holt writes, "[E]very time I worked with a fetal liver, I imagined that somewhere in California a woman had made the agonizing, heartbreaking decision to end her pregnancy."

One could write a book——no, make that an encyclopedia—responding to that utterly upside-down assertion by simply recounting endless stories of women who have a life because of abortion. And another encyclopedia could be filled with accounts of women dying from illegal abortions—before abortion was legal in the U.S., and today, when access to abortion is viciously and violently obstructed through laws and mobilized Christian fascists across America.

Right now, I encourage Nathalia Holt and everyone who has bought into or been disoriented by this bullshit to take time to watch this:

Friday, August 7, 7 pm CDT at People's Hearing for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Live from Mississippi.

And you can find first-hand stories of how abortion was liberating for women at End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women section at, as well as stories about how lack of access to abortion has been heartbreaking and literally fatal. Start with the correspondence Black Women's Lives Matter! All Women's Lives Matter! Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

Needed: Abortion On Demand and Without Apology

I focused here on an op-ed piece in the Times because it articulates a very widespread view promoted by the liberals in the ruling class and embraced far too widely that, with every unprincipled, lying, vicious, theocrat-inspired attack on abortion, concedes moral high ground to these fascist nutcases, even while formally upholding the right to abortion on an ever-shrinking ground.

In this correspondence, I've alluded to but not been able to dive into analyzing the forces behind this video, and the wider phenomenon of a rising, virulent, violent, Christian fascist force in the United States. It's beyond the scope of what I'm trying to address here to speak to the nature and role of these forces, but I will note that banning abortion, and forcing women to bear children against their will, is an absolute dividing line for them. For background on this phenomenon, the danger it poses, and how to address it in a way that will actually lead to some real change instead of constantly "reaching across the aisle", I strongly recommend Bob Avakian's collection, "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era."

In the most immediate sense, we need to appreciate, support—financially, spreading the word, taking on attacks against (from all corners), and joining in putting our bodies on the line with—the heroic people in Stop Patriarchy who have insisted on refusing to accept the paradigm of "safe, legal and rare" but instead have taken their defiant, unrepentant, and utterly moral position into the streets, porn shops, churches, housing projects, and, as I write this, into Mississippi: Abortion on demand, without apology!



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