Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Planned Parenthood's Emergency Deception

In the last week of a gubernatorial campaign, the claims and counterclaims between opponents fly so fast it's hard to keep up. A casualty of the dizzying pace is the truth, as few media outlets are actually willing to do the work to research the flurry of accusations made against candidates.

This week, the Doyle for Governor campaign released a television ad featuring a rape survivor who claims that Congressman Mark Green would deny her the choice to have an abortion. Unless Green ascends to the post of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and takes Justice Anthony Kennedy with him, abortion on demand will remain the law of the land, regardless of who inhabits the East Wing of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood today, on cue, followed up with a press release which essentially provides more information on Doyle's TV ad. In the release, they cite several pieces of legislation which are supposed to prove that Mark Green wants to deny emergency contraception to rape survivors. Their first citation reads:

(Green) failed to support compassionate care for rape victims and access to emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after an assault. (2005 HR 2928)
Note that there never was a vote of any kind on 2005 HR 2928 in the U.S. House, where Green served. Unable to cite a specific vote, Planned Parenthood criticizes Green for "failing to support" the bill, which means he didn't sign on to the bill as a cosponsor. By this standard, Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore also "failed to support" the bill, as she isn't on the bill either. Saying that someone "failed to support" a piece of legislation because they didn't put their name on it is like saying you're failing to support your neighbor if you don't mow his lawn for him every weekend.

That's not to say that Green theoretically didn't oppose the bill, which does something very different than providing "compassionate care for rape victims." The bill summary reads as follows:

Prohibits any federal funds from being provided to a hospital unless the hospital meets certain conditions related to a woman who is a victim of sexual assault, including that the hospital:

(1) provides the woman with accurate and unbiased information about emergency contraception;
(2) offers emergency contraception to the woman;
(3) provides the woman such contraception at the hospital on her request; and
(4) does not deny any such services because of the inability of the woman or her family to pay.
So the bill is really about federal funding, and the ability to withhold that funding unless hospitals and health care centers comply with this heavy-handed federal mandate.

Ironically, the bill attempts to impose the same invasive mandate that Planned Parenthood opposes when pro-life groups attempt to withhold federal funds for abortion-related activities. Doesn't Planned Parenthood believe people should be allowed to make their own choices? Aren't they opposed to government stepping in and hindering those choices? Silly questions, I know.

Let's think about this bill in practice. You run a Catholic health facility that cares for seniors and the disabled, and you rely on hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, to care for these fragile individuals. This bill would require your medical center to provide a certain type of procedure that goes against a fundamental teaching of your faith, or you'd lose all of your Medicaid and Medicare funding. Additionally, even if you provide the procedure, you must also provide materials that are deemed "accurate and unbiased" by a government bureaucrat, and you must provide it at no cost; otherwise, your doors get shut down and all of the people for whom you provide care will be left to fend for their own health care.

In essence, proponents of this bill are prioritizing chemical abortion over all other forms of health care. Pulling federal funding from medical centers who know best about what types of procedures they can offer patients is an unconscionable invasion by federal lawmakers. When those millions in federal dollars go away, I'm sure that will help address the rising costs of and availability of health insurance.

The next two bullet points in Planned Parenthood's release aren't any more accurate. They claim that Green:

• Co-authored legislation to allow health care providers to deny women access to birth control and health care. (1997 AB 953)
• Supports allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control. (1997 AB 953)

As you can see from their citations, these two are the same bill - but it's a nice effort to try to split the bill into two bullet points.

1997 Assembly Bill 953 was introduced at the time RU-486 was becoming a reality. The bill expanded an existing state law that allowed medical professionals to refuse to participate in medical procedures with which they disagreed on moral, ethical, or religious grounds (such as abortion). Essentially, the bill added dispensing RU-486 to the list of procedures that medical professionals could sit out because of their beliefs, since the pill prevented implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall.

Planned Parenthood keeps hanging on to the falsehood that somehow these conscience clause bills have something to do with "birth control" as it is normally understood. None of the bills that have ever been considered deal with "the pill," yet pro-abortion groups keep trying to make women think they do, to scare and confuse them.

In fact, the 2003 "conscience clause" bill specifically exempted "contraceptive articles," defined in state law as "any drug, medicine, mixture, preparation, instrument, article or device of any nature used or intended or represented to be used to prevent a pregnancy" (Wis. Stat 450.155 (1)(a). When some legislators tried to remove this exemption (thereby allowing pharmacists to refuse to give out birth control pills), their amendment was voted down by a whopping 86-8 vote - a rebuke rarely seen among members of the majority party.

I actually disagree with Green's stance on abortion - I believe some exceptions (rape, incest, life of the mother) are appropriate. This post isn't meant to sugar coat Green's stance on abortion, as if to say that he's actually closer to Planned Parenthood than they think. He isn't - and good for him. Any position he would take would be opposed by pro-abortion groups.

The purpose of this post is merely to illustrate that if you run as a pro-life candidate, you're not necessarily running on your actual record. You're running on whatever the pro-abortion groups say your record is, real or imagined, as the media never takes the time to research the veracity of claims in the last week of a busy campaign. But I guess we need campaign finance reform to reduce the amount of political speech during campaigns, rather than asking reporters to actually investigate and report on the accuracy of the speech that occurs. That might actually leave it in the hands of the people to decide who's telling the truth, rather than the editorial boards.