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We've all seen this movie before. In 2009 ACORN got ambushed by a sting video, and the Democratic congress panicked and gutted ACORN. Subsequent investigations (CRS, MA Attorney General,  CA Attorney General) found that ACORN had done nothing wrong in these sting videos. The supposed sting video was revealed to be selectively edited and phonier than a 3 dollar bill. But all that vindication came too late - Congress already killed ACORN. Not even a year later- USDA appointee Shirley Sherrod was ambushed with another gotcha video from Breitbart. Tom Vilsack fired her summarily. And then he found out that her quote was taken completely out of context, and her speech, far from being racist, was actually a personal testimony against racism. Sherrod was vindicated, but the Obama administration's tragicomic incompetence was on the front page for a solid week.

So what happened this week? Planned Parenthood was ambushed by a sting video which showed one of their employees assisting a wired pregnant woman wanting to abort her girl fetus. PP responded with the same smoothness as OJ Simpson jumping into his Bronco. They fired the employee in question and then released this baffling statement:

Six weeks ago a former staff member serving in an entry-level position did not follow our protocol for providing information and guidance when presented with a highly unusual patient scenario. Planned Parenthood insists on the highest quality patient care, and if we ever become aware of a staff member not meeting these high standards, we take swift action.
....
Gender bias is contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country. Planned Parenthood opposes racism and sexism in all forms, and we work to advance equity and human rights in the delivery of health care.
The employee was fired for failure to follow certain unnamed protocols, with the implication that she flouted Planned Parenthood's stance against sex selection abortions. In other words Planned Parenthood is agreeing with their opponent Liveaction that sex selection abortions are a no-no, and this employee has crossed the line.

But then on the same day, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson, as quoted by the Huffington Post, made this contradictory statement:

This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
Well- wasn't that what this employee was doing? Helping a woman exercise her choice in a non-judgmental manner? So which one is it? Is Planned Parenthood a non-judgmental vehicle to help women exercise their choices, regardless of how foolish or questionable that choice is? Or is Planned Parenthood going to pass judgment and wag their fingers on sex selection abortions?  Planned Parenthood had known that a sting video operation was coming, and they never thought to get their act together and come up with a coherent message.
Then on Wednesday- they issued this statement in opposition to the PRENDA Act pending in Congress (a toothless grandstanding bill which does nothing to stop sex selection abortions):
Planned Parenthood strongly condemns any coercive reproductive policies,” said Richards.  “This legislation will impose harmful restrictions on a woman’s access to care and limit her choices as she makes personal medical decisions. Furthermore, it would intrude on the critical nature of the doctor/patient relationship and interfere with a doctor’s ability to provide nonjudgmental, high-quality care for women.
...
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved.
Back on message. The nonjudgmental version of Planned Parenthood carries the day. But the 24hr news window has already passed. The news cycle has already moved onto the Beyonce/Kardashian kiss-and-makeup story. The only thing the general public remembers from this episode is that Planned Parenthood got caught aiding and abetting sex selection abortion, and hastily fired its employee after being caught red-handed. Planned Parenthood has lost the messaging war, and garbled its own core message of non-judgmental care and non-judgmental defence of women's choices.
Sting videos are made for the 24 hour news cycle and 3 minute attention span. They will keep coming. We on the left needs to stop panicking at shooting at our own shadows every time one of these videos turns up. When attacked- never validate your opponent's charge. Divert attention by counter-attacking. When the sting video hits you where it hurts- just ignore it completely. The 24 hr news cycle being what it is- the story will go away soon enough.  The way democrats have been reacting to sting videos - hair-on-fire panicking following by hysterical self-flagellation, and then finally rational rebuttal- is messaging suicide.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

    Somebody should challenge them to name exactly what protocol was violated by that employee. It's certainly not the one against facilitating a sex-selective abortion.

    •  Well I'm sure the right wing will challenge them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pilkington

      plenty on that point. My challenge to PP is to get a coherent message out there and stay on message, and not to get thrown off their game by some internet video. If the employee did nothing wrong then stand up for her, and stand up for being non-judgmental.

  •  On another front: I saw that PP was doing a (0+ / 0-)

    Pro PP video for the public.

    If they are in need of funds from the government, why are they spending that much needed money for video.

    While I financially support (and in the distant past) have used PP for gyno exams, I think this news hit a sour note and can be used by the other side to cut funding.

    Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by auapplemac on Thu May 31, 2012 at 12:02:53 PM PDT

    •  PS: I am against sex selection abortions unless (0+ / 0-)

      there is a medical necessity as was posted here the other day. Where will it end? Only blue eyed blond hair kids need apply?

      In essence the women could not carry a male fetus to term due to some medical problem caused by the Y chromo.

      Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

      by auapplemac on Thu May 31, 2012 at 12:06:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a slippery slope once you start questioning (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, tardis10

        some women's choices. What if a woman already has 3 girls and she wants a boy? Is that still wrong. What about a woman who wants to abort because she doesn't want to be showing in her bridesmaid dress?Is that a good reason? what about a woman who wants to abort her mixed-race child because she fears society's judgment? Is she at fault, or is the society at fault?

        If you are pro-choice, you have to accept that some women will exercising that choice poorly. Just like if you are pro-free speech, you likely understand and accept  that some people will exercise their free speech rights by spewing ignorance and hatred.

        •  Look, when it comes to abortion for sex (0+ / 0-)

          selection, why does any women have to reveal her reason. She can just ask for an abortion as long as all other laws are followed.

          I still think it's wrong as it is for vanity reasons.

          Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

          by auapplemac on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:37:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's wrong birth was gengineered to be dangerous (0+ / 0-)

            by evolution.

            So I get sick of society claiming pregnant women as communitty property (which is what is happening when reasons for abortions are examined as a matter of right & wrong)

            The biology of human birth is a trade off: In most cases (prior to modern medicine) the reason for death in childbirth is birth canal can't handle the baby's head. The process of giving birth isn't as difficult for other primate species, but larger brain size was such a survival advantage that genes that would cause death in a significant percentage of births, those genes still breed true -- since earlier children or other siblings survived to carry the gene, or if the baby lives & there's another woman in the local group with milk who can take care of another child.

            Under the circumstances, it's only fair -- if we want to have a culture that is equitable for poor & women -- if it's left as a private decision.

            I still think it's wrong as it is for vanity reasons.
            And I think human biology is f*d up. I think that's more of a moral problem -- that both biology & society put more burden on women. So I'd rather not see any social pressure on pregnant women, for any reason.

            ...

            All this social pressure, legislation and meddling. I've been wondering if the myths about childbirth being a punishment (I'm thinking of Eve; is it the same in other mythologies?) didn't develope out of an observation that giving birth wasn't as dangerous for domesticated animals as it is for human females, and speculating on a reason why.

            Giving birth (giving life) should be a gift not an obligation or women and poor people are 2nd class by definition

            by julifolo on Thu May 31, 2012 at 05:13:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  There isn't an issue with sex selective abortions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pot, Tonedevil

    in the US. More girls are born than boys which is par for the course. PP overreacted to this sting. Plus I'd bet the video was highly edited as per usual.

    •  There is some selective editting (0+ / 0-)

      For example- the PP employee actually said that she herself was planning to abort her 4th because she already had 3 kids. She changed her mind and now she is happy she had her 4th baby. Now that is a rather positive message subtly encouraging the woman to consider keeping her baby. But obviously it was selectively cut out.

      But overall- the video is a lot less butchered than the typical Breitbart/O'Keefe jokes. The PP employee was indeed very supportive of the client's plan to abort her fetus if it turns out to be a girl. There is no fakery there.

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