Abortion apologists’ attack on Carly Fiorina is beside the point

Hundreds of demonstrators gather outside the governor's mansion in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday in a protest calling for Governor Mark Dayton to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood. (AP Photo / Jim Mone)

Hundreds of demonstrators gather outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday in a protest calling for Governor Mark Dayton to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood. (AP Photo / Jim Mone)

The latest line from abortion apologists is that Carly Fiorina got it wrong about Planned Parenthood during Wednesday’s debate by referring to the undercover videos made by an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress:

“As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

“This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.”

This has been described as “pure fiction.” The truth isn’t that simple.

The image Fiorina described can be found starting at the 5:57 mark of the following video. (WARNING: This content is graphic, and some viewers may find it very disturbing.)

There are two things going on here, as viewers ought to be able to discern.

Earlier in the video starting at the 4:00 mark, Holly O’Donnell, who used to work as a “procurement technician” for bioscience firm Stem Express, begins describing a scene she once witnessed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Jose, Calif.:

“I hear her calling, ‘Hey Holly, come over here, I want you to see something kind of cool. It’s kind of neat.’ So I’m over here and, the moment I see it, I’m just flabbergasted. This is the most gestated fetus and closest thing to a baby I’ve seen. And she’s, ‘OK I want to show you something.’ And she has one of her instruments, and she just taps the heart and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here, and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating. And I don’t know what to think.”

After some other clips, the video returns to O’Donnell:

“She’s like, Do you know why that’s happening? I knew why it was happening: It’s because an electrical current — the nodes were still firing. And I don’t know what that constitutes. It’s technically dead, or it’s alive? … It wasn’t completely torn up. And its nose was pretty pronounced. It had eyelids. And its mouth was pronounced. And then, since the fetus was so intact, she said, OK well this is a really good fetus, and it looks like we can procure a lot from it. We’re gonna procure the brain. So the moment I hear that, I’m like, that means we’re gonna have to cut the head open.”

O’Donnell goes on to describe what she had to do to “procure the brain,” but it was toward the end of that second clip that the image Fiorina described appears for nine seconds.

As Fiorina’s critics themselves point out, this image is marked differently than the rest of the footage: In the bottom-right corner it prominently says “Courtesy of Grantham Collection and Center for Bio Ethical Reform.” (Make up your minds, abortion apologists: Either the video is deceptive or it’s clearly marked.)

In other words, it is clear the image is intended to show what a fetus like the one O’Donnell described would look like. It obviously isn’t the same fetus, because if there was footage of the actual incident she described, the viewer would see that instead of seeing O’Donnell describe it some time later.

So, in the absence of that actual footage, the filmmakers show what the fetus would have looked like. Why? Probably because we aren’t used to seeing such images, and we don’t like to think about what the body of an aborted child about to have its organs harvested looks like. So, is it intended for shock value? Damn right it is. But anyone who thinks about it at all understands what is going on.

Now, abortion apologists have said some pretty awful things about O’Donnell — the most vile of which were eventually retracted — but I have yet to find anyone who disputes that she saw what she described. Rather, they want to talk about whether anyone has been arrested, whether evidence of criminality has been found, and whether the image in the video was the exact child O’Donnell was talking about, not an accurate depiction of what that child would have looked like. When Fiorina’s critics claim she was telling a “pure fiction” or something that “did not happen,” they are spinning a technicality in a way not borne out by the facts.

As I said from the beginning, the question of criminality is only one aspect here. There’s also the issue of human decency, as well as whether taxpayers who object fiercely to such actions should have to subsidize them.

It is to those issues that Fiorina was speaking. Could she have phrased her comment slightly different? Sure, she could have said the videos show “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone talks about being forced to harvest the brain from a child just like it.” That would have been completely accurate and substantively the same. But would the abortion apologists have found something else to criticize instead? Damn right they would have.

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75 comments
Likewise
Likewise

The fantasy of those who would outlaw abortion is that they will eliminate them.  No they won't. They will just return us to the time of illegal back alley abortions.  It is up to the women in this country as to who decides who controls their reproductive rights.  If they choose to ignore this fight, they will lose it.  It is my hope that they remember what is at stake here.  If they don't vote for those who give them their rights to family planning; making those decisions between themselves, family, and doctor, they will lose those rights.  It's plain and simple. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Short of banning abortion which isn't going to happen


Is it more moral to allow tissue to be used in research or should it simply be discarded because it makes us uncomfortable ?



quickworkbreak
quickworkbreak

You used the term "abortion apologist" at least 5 times here. Is this the new buzz phrase the right hopes will get "sticky"?  It seems like you're playing damage control with this post, apologizing for the 'fetal reenactment' charade.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Eye wonder As the videos make perfectly clear, these are not "clumps of cells." Otherwise, PP officials wouldn't be talking about "harvesting their organs," would they?


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Eye wonder As for the "show a little more care for lives in being," I assume you, the "believe(r) in liberty and freedom" are referring to our belief that living beings aren't best served by having government provide for their every need from cradle to grave. I believe people are best served by having opportunities to make the most of their own lives, and that the kinds of programs to which, I assume, you refer put an unacceptably low ceiling on that potential. I don't consider the government-first alternative to be real "concern."

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@quickworkbreak PP's own argument within the videos is that money is fungible: “Every penny they save,” by charging labs for tissue, (Dr. Deborah) Nucatola notes, “is just pennies they give to another patient.” (http://kylewingfield.blog.ajc.com/2015/08/06/videos-offer-plenty-of-evidence-for-defunding-planned-parenthood/)

That's what PP's critics have been saying for years, that money is fungible and subsidizing PP means subsidizing abortions. Now that PP agrees, why do we even have to debate this?

quickworkbreak
quickworkbreak

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar  Can you show us where taxpayers are subsidizing abortions, specifically, as opposed to the vast majority of other services PP provides? No, you can't. There's the rebuttal to your argument you requested.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar You keep going back to the criminal question. I would not argue the video constitutes criminal evidence. But you keep ignoring the broader question, which is whether we as a society should be a) tolerating and b) subsidizing this kind of activity. I'd say that's "incredibly dishonest" of you.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@quickworkbreak 'fetal reenactment' charade.


What Kyle is asking us to do here is akin to asking a jury to watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and convict someone based on a reenactment scene


Its incredibly dishonest. 


I say again when do the trials start ? Why has no one been arrested ?



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @quickworkbreak In other words he cant.


And they aren't charging labs for tissue. The tissue is donated.


There are nominal storage and transportation costs which are passed on to the lab.Good for the taxpayer.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @quickworkbreak “That's what PP's critics have been saying for years, that money is fungible and subsidizing PP means subsidizing abortions.”

A more ridiculous argument would be hard to find. I bet that every one of us subsidizes – by paying taxes, for instance – something he/she disagrees with.  Should be defund the government completely to avoid that?

AvailableName
AvailableName

@Kyle_Wingfield @quickworkbreak Kyle you have a point on the money saved thing.  I assume you are with me in repealing any laws that in any way benefit religion.  You know, a penny saved by not paying taxes, getting school lunch aid, transportation, Pell grants and so on?  


I don't think government should be in the business of subsidizing religion and I resent my fungible tax money being used to do that.  You with me?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@AvailableName There's a qualitative difference between tax exemptions available broadly, and specific appropriations to specific organizations.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Kyle_Wingfield @quickworkbreak Your 'argument,' such as it is, is loaded with provocative language, innuendo, half truths and outright lies.  Your 'argument,' such as it is, is more twisted than the pretzel I got from Auntie Annie's yesterday. You're creating an 'argument' because you know the truth is not on your side. Nobody is an 'abortion apologist.' Those of us who believe in liberty and freedom also believe it is a woman's right to choose what happens with her body, within the bounds of the law. A fetus is not a person. How about conservatives show a little more care for lives in being? I suppose your 'concern' for clumps of cells with the potential for life is admirable, but it is a waste of time and resources and is a diversion from things that actually will make a difference to the nation. The level of conservative hypocrisy in modern-day America is truly astonishing.

AvailableName
AvailableName

@Kyle_Wingfield @AvailableName Okay, as an example, one of your favorite subjects - charter schools run by religious organizations.  Why should my tax dollars go to faith based charter organizations and you don't want to let your tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood, an organization?  All legal organizations, none are breaking the law.  I think you've got some goose and gander going here.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Interesting that the networks didn't include the most damning part of Carly's statement, namely the graphic description of the baby still alive and being killed by the abortion provider.

Own your sickness, libs, don't shrink from it.

Darken-Rahl
Darken-Rahl

Whether you think the videos are edited or not, the real question should be why do you think it's ok to sell parts of aborted babies for profit? Has the morals of our American society really declined so much that we have so little value for human life and decency?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Darken-Rahl Whether you think the videos are edited or not, the real question should be why do you think it's ok to sell parts of aborted babies for profit?


What profit ?

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Darken-Rahl  That is the lie that has been propagated here - that there was selling of aborted babies for profit. There has been no evidence of that. If there were, there would be already criminal investigation.

straker
straker

Kyle, consider jobs, the economy, illegal immigration, useless Middle East wars, our crumbling infrastructure, global warming and Planned Parenthood.


The ask yourself which of these do you think Americans are most concerned about.


If its not Planned Parenthood, and its not, then why is your beloved Republican Congress ready to shut down the Government over it?


Could it be because Planned Parenthood is an easy target while these other issues are difficult and will actually require bipartisan cooperation with the Democrats?  

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

It shows how biased the media is and how stupid and gullible the GOP is, that if the GOP pass a budget funding the entire fed government budget minus 500 million for PP, it is the GOP that are shutting down the government, not the guy who vetoed the passed budget.  No wonder the outsiders are doing so well, the establishment is so stupid they are repeating the media and Dem's talking points by saying,  "we will be blamed".  


Instead of wringing their hands and weeping about how mean Obama is, maybe they should be out there with ads and town halls educating the masses about the issue.  One of their big problems is they don't educate or even talk to the voters except when they need their votes.  Education should be an ongoing proposition if they want to win the hearts and minds of the voters. 


The surrender caucus has just as much power as Obama and should learn to use their power instead of whining and surrendering before the fight begins.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

You have to do some perverse mental gymnastics to willfully force yourself to come to the conclusion that partial birth or late term abortion is a morally acceptable action.  Once there, you have two choices, continue to march on and either ignore or discount findings that fetuses, babies to most of us, feel pain after 20 weeks, or that you are taking one life in the hope or premise that others might be saved by fetal tissue experiments.  The other more difficult choice is to admit you have been wrong, which most folks do not like to do. 


Planned Parenthood should not receive federal or state funding.  There are many other places that perform counseling and medical tests for poor women and do not do late term abortions.  Send the money to them and increase the funding, so that children born to poor parents are healthy and nutritionally nourished, and their mothers are healthy enough to take good care of them.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister You have to do some perverse mental gymnastics to willfully force yourself to come to the conclusion that partial birth or late term abortion is a morally acceptable action.


Most of those abortions are done when there is a severe abnormality with the child and on doctors advice. I can think of nothing more morally reprehensible than forcing a woman to have a child against her and her doctors wishes. A child that will be born in agonizing pain and live only a few hours or days.


In fact its pretty sick. 


feel pain after 20 weeks,


Disproven over and over. 

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

When abortion rights ideology takes priority over morality the left wing Democrats have degenerated into a party unworthy of holding public office in this country.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Recon2/3 When someone's "morality" gets enforced by government at the expense of an individual's right to be secure in their own person and to be left alone... that's called authoritarianism.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@ByteMe @Recon2/3 

So, condemning murder and the sale of the baby parts is advocating forced morality? I think you should reconsider what you're defending in your comment.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Recon2/3 @ByteMe Who is selling baby parts ?


That is against the law. 


Why hasn't anyone been arrested is what you should be asking.

GB101
GB101

Kyle: Does the AJC's health insurance policy have vision coverage?  I ask because your colleague Jay Bookman needs some good glasses.


Regarding this video he wrote: "If you look closely, you can spot a small, barely noticeable notation on the bottom right indicating that the snippet’s source is “Courtesy of the Grantham Institute and Center for Bio-Ethical Reform,” another pro-life agency. "  The notation that he says is "barely noticeable" is quite clear.    

JoelEdge
JoelEdge

It's sad how sick this country has become. What won't we do for money.

Wayne_stuck_in_AL
Wayne_stuck_in_AL

Personally speaking, I don't think there are enough abortions.

Barry D
Barry D

Like the heavily edited videos from the CfMP, this blog post is disingenuous and deceptive.  


1. First, excerpt from Fiorina's quote: "...[W]atch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."  NO such footage exists.  We have only O'Donnells testimony to go on as a supposed eye witness.  Her account is, at best, anecdotal evidence.


2. Simply adding attribution of the footage to a 3rd party does not clearly show the intent to use it as an example separate from the incident described at all.  News programs do this frequently when using footage of actual events from an outside source.  Contrast this with crime television programs showing reenactments of an alleged crime; they clearly mark them as reenactments.  The video makers' use of footage of a stillborn baby, which has nothing to do with abortion, also points to a pattern of using images deceptively for shock value.  There is a distinct possibility some who view this segment of video will conclude it is actual footage from the incident described or a similar occurrence.  After all, it certainly was obfuscated enough to allegedly fool a GOP presidential candidate.


3. No taxpayer money that goes to Planned Parenthood or any other women's health provider is used for abortion.  NOT ONE PENNY.  Yet this blogger continues to deceive readers into believing this falsehood.


This is just another salvo in the battle over reproductive rights, a chisel to chip away at Roe v. Wade.  The fringes of the anti-choice movement would like to be viewed as God's warriors, doing whatever they can to protect the lives of children.  But many of these same people refuse to support common sense measures to greatly reduce the number of abortions: contraception, sex education & same sex adoption.  Even more troubling, once a fetus comes to full term birth as a baby, they refuse to offer any support to them or their parents through programs like Medicaid expansion or WIC.  That's the true deception behind the abortion narrative.


lvg
lvg

@Barry D GOP's agenda as majority party in Congress: 

Harass the president;

Appease the fundamentalists and defund Planned Parenthood, 

abolish government funded birth control and counseling;

abolish Obamacare, 

interfere in foreign relations,

 shut down the government; 

prevent funding for US transportation projects,

 and get graded by Heritage Action amd other conservative monitoring groups.

Caius
Caius

The anti-abortion folks are still making the same mistake they have made for 40 years.  Abortion within limits is a constitutional right of every pregnant person.  And it will remain a constitutional right until the SCOTUS reverses the decision or two-thirds of the state legislatures amend the Constitution to reverse the decision. You would think that after 40 years of failure some would sit up and take notice.  But alas!


As a caveat, I am pro-life; pro-life from conception to natural death,  unlike some who are pro-life until the person is born at which point they are told "good luck" as anything more is considered a violation of political ideology.


ByteMe
ByteMe

I have no problem with abortion, I have no problem with the death penalty.  I also have no problem with assisted suicide.  To me they're the all same thing: death.  Something I think we all used to understand was just another part of life.  If you moralists want to talk about getting rid of the death penalty, then that's a good start to your being less hypocritical.

I have no problem harvesting organs from adults when they die and charging a fee for extracting and transferring the organs and tissue to another location, just as I have no problem doing it to a fetus for the same actions for the same reason.

What the video did was attempt to intentionally mislead and tug on your emotions, knowing that the duped will follow along with them because they're already predisposed to following along.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe Abortion, death penalty, assisted suicide. One of these things is not like the others in a fundamental way: The person dying has no say in it through his/her actions or choices.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kyle_Wingfield Here's the thing about getting all moral about that: do we let a fetus vote?  Drive?  Purchase medication?  Why not?  Insufficient brain capacity to make a rational decision.  So we leave those choices to its parents.  Same thing.


The moralists want to make decisions for others instead of letting others make those tough decisions for themselves.  That's called being a busybody.  Or an authoritarian if you get the government involved in enforcing that intrusion into your personal life.  When someone makes the choice for an abortion THEY DON'T WANT YOUR PERMISSION.  They want your sympathy, your understanding, not your moralistic viewpoint.


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe "Here's the thing about getting all moral about that: do we let a fetus vote?  Drive?  Purchase medication?  Why not?  Insufficient brain capacity to make a rational decision.  So we leave those choices to its parents.  Same thing."

By that logic, parents should also be allowed to decide whether their 6-year-old lives or dies. Oh those "moralists" and "authoritarians" making the decision for them ...

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar "A 6 year old child is self aware and cognitive "

And yet, not capable of making the necessary decisions to vote, drive or purchase medication. I'm responding to the argument presented. You're, as usual, not.

M H Smith
M H Smith

What a loathing of human life. 

Sad thing is, Republicans in Congress simply voting down funding for planned parenthood, which will result in nothing more than a bit of shameful political theater for the emotional prone, such as Carly is depending on to win the GOP primary.

It certainly does not speak to the character of America as a nation  as she insisted or any lack thereof in the minds of most of Americans she failed to convince nor does anyone emotionally stable and of sane mind expect Obama not to veto any bill that would remove funding from Medicaid which is tied into the PP funding. 

And people call Trump's bombastic showmanship antics those of a snake-oil salesman? HUH! 

Vote to elect the needed majority in the Senate and to take control of the White House that will make possible appointing a new Supreme Court to overturn Roe.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

My tax dollars go to fund a bigoted and trigger happy police force that has no problem murdering fully grown adults, so excuse me if I don't have much sympathy for you weak stomached pansies who recoil at the sight of standard medical procedures.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

The pictured fetus appears to be more likely the result of a 'still birth', i.e., miscarriage.  Anyone who has witnessed a first trimester dilatation and curettage knows that the products of conception are not identifiable with regard to species and sex.  Also, this person does not even claim to be an employee of Planned Parenthood.  Clearly an attempt by the anti-abortion crowd to mislead the uninformed.