Colson: What is all this caterwauling about Planned Parenthood?

with John Colson

Last week the Republicans in both houses of Congress tried to defund Title X, the nation’s family-planning program that funds Planned Parenthood, citing misleading video clips that conservatives claim are proof that Planned Parenthood is selling aborted-fetus parts for big-bucks profits.

The effort failed when the U.S. Senate balked, but the rabid Republicans of Congress, and now the equally rabid candidates for the GOP nomination for president, have vowed that they will not rest until Planned Parenthood has been killed.


I repeat: WHAT?!?!?

The video, produced by an anti-abortion organization known as The Center for Medical Progress, was actually an undercover sting by operatives trying desperately to get Planned Parenthood officials to say incriminating things on video. And Dr. Deborah Nicatola, senior director of medical service with Planned Parenthood, was recorded frankly discussing medical procedures that were all perfectly legal, as are the fees associated with preserving fetal tissues for research, but the people behind the recorder did their damnedest to make it sound as evil and disgusting as they could.

And now, as they say, it’s out there for all to see, and for right-wing demagogues to holler about without pause or cause.

Of course, at this point, we don’t know all of what actually was said at that luncheon discussion, where wine glasses festooned the table and a false friendship underscored the conversation.

I gotta say, this all sounds so familiar.

I recall back in 2009, there was a similar story about an outfit known as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which had a 40-year history of working on the kinds of things conservatives hate — voter registration drives for minorities and the poor, community organizing and advocacy for low- to moderate income folks, etc

Two conservative operatives, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, portrayed themselves as looking for advice on how to criminally hide prostitution activities and avoid taxes, and asked ACORN representatives for help.

The Giles-O’Keefe team got some quotes, went back to wherever they called home at the time, and put together a video clip to release to (guess who?) FOX News, the conservative movement’s mouthpiece, and an anti-government website called

The resultant furor killed ACORN’s funding from the federal government, ended its contracts with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service, and basically killed the organization. By late 2010, ACORN had filed for bankruptcy and disbanded.

The problem was, subsequent investigations by attorneys general in several states showed that the whole “scandal” was a lie. The tapes had been massively edited to make it look as though an ACORN employee was trying to help these two scheming right-wingers, when in fact she was not. That was determined after a California AG promised Giles and O’Keefe immunity from prosecution if he could view the raw tapes.

But the damage was done, ACORN was out of business, and a number of poor people were the ultimate losers because of a lie.

This “sting” with Planned Parenthood is the same sort of thing.

The defunding of Planned Parenthood passed in the House, then failed in the Senate, but rabid Republicans have vowed to vote down any federal budget bill that contains funding for Planned Parenthood in September, and are threatening to stage a government-shutdown battle on Capitol Hill.

This is the same kind of idiotic posturing and blustering the Republicans have been spouting over the tragic attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and as they once did over Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes with Monica Lewinsky, and as they have always done over anything that conflicted with their anachronistic, hallucinogenic view of what they think this county should have been but never really was back in the 1950s.

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out on Aug. 2, the Republicans should be praising Planned Parenthood, not damning it, because the organization is “perhaps America’s most successful anti-abortion initiative.”

He cited a report from the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health, that family-planning efforts such as those of Planned Parenthood, through counseling of young girls about everything from condoms to the dangers of unprotected sex in general, probably prevents 345,000 abortions every year by keeping those girls from getting pregnant, among other benefits.

But Republicans, with their hypocritical, empty moralizing, have tried to demonize this beneficial institution for superficial political gains among the hysterical, ignorant and equally hypocritical members of the screeching class.

It’s a classic example of what is now known as “echo chamber” politics, where hyper-conservative politicians, television commentators and delusional voters keep telling each other the same lies over and over until they take on the coloring of immutable truth, at least in the eyes of the screechers.

And like Mitt Romney, the loser in 2012, they all seem irretrievably convinced that everyone sees the world through the same murky lens as they do, and will follow them down the mythical yellow brick road.